The SSQQ July 2004
Written and edited monthly by Rick Archer
Previous 2004 Newsletters
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WHAT'S NEW AT SSQQ THIS
JULY DANCE CLASSES
BEGIN ON MEMORIAL DAY MONDAY, JULY 5TH.
PARTIES INCLUDE THE INDEPENDENCE SWING/LATIN
DANCE ON SATURDAY, JULY 10, AND THE WESTERN
HOEDOWN ON SATURDAY, JULY 24
THE SSQQ SEPTEMBER DANCE CRUISE ABOARD THE RHAPSODY IS
EXPLODING!! THE PRICES HAVE JUST JUMPED,
BUT YOU CAN STILL REGISTER TODAY AT THE ORIGINAL RATES TO AVOID
A PRICE INCREASE!
THE STORY OF
FORMER INSTRUCTOR DIANE HEAD AND THE
BEST SOCK HOP IN SSQQ HISTORY
STORIES AND PICTURES FROM THIS
YEAR'S 2004 SOCK HOP
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
THE MOST COMPLAINTS IN A
SINGLE MONTH EVER AND SOME ARE QUITE NEGATIVE.
READ AND DECIDE FOR YOURSELF HOW THEY SHOULD BE HANDLED.
BEST NEW JOKES OF MONTH
||BEST NEW JOKES OF THE
MONTH: 5 NEW JOKES THIS MONTH!! -
Contributed by Juan Ramon, Ann Faget, Bett
Sundermeyer, Leroy Ginzel, Loni
SHARON CRAWFORD AND BILL SHAW ARE ENGAGED.
RANDY WINFREY AND MELISSA GAUTHIER ADD DETAILS TO THEIR
A MYSTERY COUPLE SETS THE DATE!!
ssqq employee of month
SEE BETHANY DANIELS STAR IN "SEUSSICAL
THE MUSICAL" AT MAIN STREET THEATER THIS MONTH!!
ssqq logic club
||WHO WERE THE WINNERS
OF THE JUNE PUZZLE?
SCANDALOUS DEVELOPMENTS!! MUST
NEW logic puzzle
tHE NEW SSQQ
LOGIC PUZZLE: SHE LOVES
YOU YEAH YEAH YEAH! (NO, NOT MARA, GUESS AGAIN)
joke picture of the month
THE MOST PATHETIC PICTURE I
HAVE EVER PUBLISHED
WORST NEW PUN OF
TWO PUNS ARE NOT BETTER
THAN NONE! Contributed by
Contributed by Rick Archer
VENUS AND MARS
OH BOY!! MEN BASHING
CLEAN SIDE JOKES
BLONDE AND THE LAWYER"
BLUE SIDE JOKES
TARZAN YOU JANE" BY FORMER
SSQQ INSTRUCTOR MARY COLLINS
THE NEWS: THE STORY OF SUSETTE GIBSON
handle a whistle-blower. HISD'S
THE NEWS: Gypsies
can sue IBM over Holocaust
THE NEWS: SSQQ SEPTEMBER CRUISERS BEWARE:
THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!!
Teacher’s Aide Nabbed FROM
CRUISE LINER in Marshmallow Bust
THE NEWS: THE NICKEL WORTH THREE MILLION DOLLARS
STORY IN THE NEWS: UNLUCKY IN LOVE -
EXCEPTIONAL BEAUTY IS NO GUARANTEE.
START OF THE HEADLINE STORIES SECTION
RETURN TO HEADLINES
NEW AT SSQQ THIS MONTH
WHAT'S NEW AT SSQQ IN JULY!!
June was a very interesting month. For starters, we had a record
number of complaints. Long-time followers of the SSQQ Newsletter
will be thrilled. Our market research shows "Complaints" are the
favorite part of each Newsletter.
Guess who is getting married? None
other than the legendary Waltz Goddess herself, Sharon
Crawford!! She is engaged to the handsome and sophisticated
William Shaw. I can't wait to see them Waltz at their wedding!!
Speaking of weddings, someone else is getting married too. I
have hidden the news deep within the pages of this email. You
will have to Search!
The September SSQQ Cruise is amazing. We are almost over the
incredible 100 threshold with more inquiries continuing to
filter in. This is going to be the biggest dance cruise in
history. Thanks to Marla's hard work, we have four two-hour
dance workshops, two classy Ballroom Receptions, plus we have
the "Shall We Dance" Lounge all to ourselves on the first night
of the trip for a very special party.
This announcement is a bit premature, but on August 28th at our
annual Beach Ball Party, we will have 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. George Grega will
bring in his special light show for the occasion. And best of
all, SSQQ will be sponsoring an all-day Extravaganza. The
Extravaganza is an opportunity to choose from 25 different Crash
Courses offered throughout the day. We will keep you posted as
we line up the classes and the instructors. This party is going
to be Something Special!!
And what else in this issue? Did you know the Annual Sock Hop is
this Saturday June 26th?
The Sock Hop is my second most-favorite party of the year. This
party is a lot of fun.
I got kind of nostalgic, so for the July issue of the SSQQ
Newsletter, I wrote the story of Diane Head, the charismatic
SSQQ Dance Teacher who was responsible for creating the largest
Sock Hop in SSQQ History. You can read the text below and I will
add the pictures tomorrow on the SSQQ Web Site.
July Classes don't start Monday, July 5th,
the day after July 4th. I know, that's a weird start
date, but we should be back to our normal schedule in August.
I have so many people complain about NOT starting classes on
Sunday that we will only have THREE Sundays in July just so we
can get back to normal and start classes on a Sunday in August.
We will prorate the classes
without make-ups accordingly.
And just who else is getting married?
You will have to figure it out by reading 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: JULY DANCE CLASSES BEGIN ON MONDAY, JULY 5TH, THE DAY
AFTER THE 4TH OF JULY.
The July Dance Semester begins the week of Monday, July 5th
WEIRD START DATE: Due the fact that this year July 4th falls on a
Sunday, we will be starting our July classes on a Monday for the
second month in row. This means the Sunday classes will start a week
late on July 11th. There will only be THREE Sundays of classes in
July. Note that we will be prorating all of the classes that do not
have a "Make-Up" class on other nights.
Things will return to normal in August. The August Dance Semester
will start as usual on a Sunday.
Don't forget you are perfectly welcome to start classes in the
Second Week of the July Dance Semester. Don't forget - Sunday
classes in July come at the END of the SSQQ Dance Week.
HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE JULY 2004 SCHEDULE
SWING BALBOA with Gloria Sanchez will be offered Sundays in July at
4:30 pm. Balboa is an 8-count shuffle danced very close together
moving back and forth. Many Balboa dancers dance Swing, switch to
Balboa periodically, then move back to Swing. Balboa is quite close
to Gloria's heart and she loves to teach it. It is a very cool
SWING ACROBATICS returns to Sunday afternoons in July for the first
time this year. Taught by Paul Foltyn, you need a partner for this
exciting class since trust, timing, & practice are a major part of
success. Dips, Flips, Lunges, and Lifts immediately make you the
most eye-catching dancer on the floor. Don't miss it!!
July features the start of a new BEGINNING WHIP/WEST COAST SWING
SUPERCLASS cycle. Over the years, July has marked some of our
strongest Whip and WCS classes since summers are all about taking on
big new challenges. SSQQ has the only program in Houston where you
can take this difficult class on 2 different nights
(Sunday/Thursday) for the price of one. Plus SSQQ is the only
program that teaches the legendary Texas Whip side-by-side with the
popular West Coast Swing. Thus the "Superclass" title. Note that
Rick Archer & Bryan Spivey will teach the Sunday class. And which of
these gentlemen will dance the girl's part? Take the class and find
BEGINNING ARGENTINE TANGO makes its first appearance at SSQQ in a
couple of years. Taught on Mondays by Judy Archer and Bethany
Daniels, Argentine Tango is flashy, mysterious and beautiful. It is
also a very tricky dance to learn, so be sure to stay after class to
BEGINNING LATIN CHA CHA will be offered on Mondays with Charlene.
INTERMEDIATE DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT on Mondays features many
sophisticated patterns to Waltz. Foxtrot, and Rumba. Taught by Rick
Archer, this class covers 3 famous Ballroom dances that share almost
identical footwork - Foxtrot, Waltz, and Rumba. Once you master the
subtle differences in the styling & timing, you will be learning 3
dances at once!! Learn to dance to Sinatra Foxtrots ("The Way You
Look Tonight"), smooth Jazz Rumba music (Diana Krall's "The Look of
Love"), and beautiful Irish Waltzes ("Greensleeves")!
Side Note: For all you people planning on dancing with
us on the SSQQ September Dance Cruise, "Moonlight" is the perfect
class to take to prepare for the Ballroom Dancing that occurs every
night of the trip!! 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 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!!
The class you Salsa dancers have been waiting for is here. Judy
Archer will teach ADVANCED SALSA LEVEL 9 for the very first time on
Tuesdays in July. Expect to be challenged!! Expect to be tortured!!
Expect to be crowded!! Expect to have fun!! Sign up early - there
may be a space limit.
SUPER ADVANCED WESTERN WALTZ appears on Wednesdays with Sharon
Crawford and John Jones. The Advanced level was so successful it
filled Room 1 with 75 people last month. Sharon and John are working
their magic once again!! This terrific class is only offered once a
year, so don't miss it!
Scott Ladell is a Competition Western dancer who has recently joined
the SSQQ Western Staff. He loves to create Advanced Western Swing
patterns. Scott will be offering GHOST TOWN 11 on Fridays in July
and plans to add some new twists of his own to keep you interested
and on your toes!
Rick Archer will be teaching BEGINNING WESTERN WALTZ on Fridays in
July. This lovely dance is known as the "Romantic Western Dance" &
is quite popular at the studio. Did I hear you say you didn't even
know Rick could Waltz? Well sign up and find out!!
Rick Archer teaches MARTIAN WHIP on Thursdays. Houston City WCS
champion Bryan Spivey and his partner Lisa Palmer teach the Friday
night sequel to the Thursday class known as MARTIAN XTRA. There is
no overlap between the two nights, which means you pay one price and
get the second class for free.
SSQQ is introducing a new Saturday dance program known as SENORS AND
SENORITAS from 1:30-3:30 pm. This unique class is reserved strictly
for dance students over 50. It features all kinds of dancing and has
a built-in Practice Night at the end of each class. The four weeks
of classes will cover Beginning Swing Dancing, Ballroom Dancing,
Latin Dancing and Western Dancing. We will switch partners
constantly. (Please note if the boy-girl ratio is out of kilter, we
may ask a couple of ladies who are pretty good dancers to volunteer
to "lead" rather than follow in order to balance the class.) 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. Read the SSQQ Newsletter for more information. This month
there will be two sections at the same time: one for repeats from
June plus a new class for newcomers to the SASS CLASS. Read more
about it at
PARTIES IN JULY
DANCE PARTIES IN JULY
INDEPENDENCE DAY SWING/LATIN PARTY
Saturday, July 10th, 9:15 - Midnight,
Cover Charge $7
Wear Red White and Blue or you'll be Stew!
Music: Swing in Room 1, Latin in Room 4, and Tango in Room 6.
CRASH COURSES 7-9 pm
BEG LINDY HOP - Gloria
ARGENTINE TANGO - Don
BACHATA - Linda
VIENNESE WALTZ - Judy
ZYDECO - Ronnie
SWING CHARLESTON PTRNS II - Maureen
THE SSQQ WESTERN HOEDOWN
Saturday, July 24th, 9:15 - Midnight,
Cover charge $7
Dress Hoedown or Expect a Showdown (i.e., wear whatever you
CRASH COURSES 7-9 pm
BEG TEXAS TWOSTEP - Leo
INT TWOSTEP/POLKA: CIRCLE TURNS - Rick
NIGHT CLUB - Anita
DARYL'S FAV GHOST TOWN PTNS - Daryl
SYNCHRONIZED POLKA - Linda
DOWN AND DIRTY WHIP PTNS - Bryan S.
Music: Western, Waltz in Room 1, Whip, WCS in Room 4, and East
Coast Swing in Room 6.
Manhunt Alert: The Hoedown Party is the party where we have
our Annual Sadie Hawkins Manhunt. This year you ladies will
hunt men for cash as well as glory.
Expect this to be a truly amazing event. Getting paid to catch
men. Whoa boy!!
Maybe we should come up with some rewards for the men for
eluding the women. Definitely!
STORY THREE: THE SSQQ SEPTEMBER DANCE CRUISE ABOARD
THE RHAPSODY HAS HIT CRITICAL MASS!!
WE ARE UP TO 96 PEOPLE AT PRESS TIME AND STILL COUNTING.
THE PRICES LISTED TO THE PUBLIC HAVE RISEN CONSIDERABLY, BUT YOU CAN
STILL REGISTER TODAY AT THE ORIGINAL SSQQ RATES TO AVOID THE PRICE
INCREASE!! 713 862 4428
Written by Rick Archer
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.
Three months ago, we had to cancel a trip for lack of interest. Two
month ago we had 30 people sign up for this trip. One month ago our
numbers were at 63. Now we are up to 96. Do you think we will cross
100? Bet on it.
What a difference a ship makes, huh.
Since Marla is out of town on business, I am too lazy to look up the
current list prices, but take my word for it, this trip is nearly
sold out and it is far more expensive on the outside.
However we still have limited space left at our original prices.
Before she left, Marla said she had about 10 spots left plus she
might be able to beg for another cabin or two as needed. However, I
am forbidden to say much more. Marla's final words to me were
specifically, "Don't promise anything. Let me handle it when I get
There you have it, folks, if it wasn't clear before who was in
charge of this trip, it should be now. I used to be important, but
so far all she has said is teach some dance lessons and don't forget
Here is some good news. Marla has reserved the beautiful "Shall We
Dance" Lounge for a huge Wedding Reception on the first night of the
cruise for an hour and a half of dancing and celebration!! This will
be fun! Wedding Reception?? Hmm. I wonder who is getting married?
Furthermore, Marla has obtained "Shall We Dance" on four different
days for dance workshops. This lady is one heck of a trip organizer.
We will have a blast dancing within our group!!
And don't forget, there are two formal Ballroom Dance Parties aboard
this ship in the evening complete with free cocktails and a live
band. These are very elegant parties that you will not want to miss.
Don't forget that each night of the trip there is Ballroom Dancing
in the Atrium after dinner (the incredibly beautiful central part of
the ship aka the Centrum).
In addition the ship organizes a Western Party and a 50s Night.
These parties are a bit lame by our standards, but fun can be had if
you work at it. Also the ship sponsors dance lessons of its own. We
will attempt not to be indignant if you participate.
And finally there is Moonlight Dancing late into the wee hours of
the morning to the magic melodies of the SSQQ Jukebox. Bring your
own CDs, your dancing shoes, and some pixie dust for the floor.
Amphetamine might not hurt as well (joke) When we talk about Dancing
the Night Away, this group is SERIOUS about it. This cruise may be
the most dancing you will ever do in your life.
And now for the big announcement: Marla and I are getting married on
this cruise! Did you guess already?
We will have the wedding ceremony aboard the ship earlier in the day
followed by a very small reception. The ship has limited us to only
35 guests, so Marla and I have two Wedding Receptions - one for
family and land-based guests not going on the cruise and the other
for our guests on this year's SSQQ cruise!
Let me warn you, Marla and I may be some pooped puppies at dinner
that night so we expect you to take it easy on us. I will have about
one gram of energy left to talk the maitre d' into allowing us open
seating, then I am off duty for the rest of the night. Remind me to
give Iqbal or Gary the sacred Jukebox for dancing in the Early AM
before I pass out.
One more time: Why this trip will be great:
1. Rick and Marla's Wedding Reception Sunday evening on Day 1.
2. The SSQQ "Dancing at Sea" workshop on Day 2 as we prepare for the
evening's Big Band Dance.
3. The Captain's Reception Big Band Swing Dance on Day 2's Formal
4. Key West on Day 3. Let's hit an infamous bar and take a walk on
the wild side!
5. Dance Workshops on Day 4 in the beautiful "Shall We Dance"
Lounge. Tango anyone?
6. Day 5 in the beautiful and bizarre Cayman Islands where everyone
is richer than you are.
7. The exceptional Crown and Anchor Ballroom Dance for second time
cruisers on Day whatever.
8. Day 6 Snorkeling and Beach Volleyball at Cozumel's gorgeous
9. SSQQ "Dancing at Sea" workshop on Day 7. Time for more Salsa
Rueda? Or maybe something else as the group decides.
10. Evening Shows and Group Dancing afterwards each night.
11. The Wicked Ever-present Danger of SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance.
By the way, did you know that Marla and I met on the SSQQ Cruise in
August 2001. We have never been apart since. If it could happen to
us, it could happen to you.
If you change your mind you have until July 18th to back out, but a
$250 deposit TODAY guarantees you a spot whether you have a roommate
or not (we will find you a roommate).
We need a $250 deposit by May 21st to hold a spot. This money is
completely refundable up to the date of final payment on July 18th.
If you are interested in the trip, you should read more about it on
the SSQQ Web Site.
You can also call Marla Gorzynski at 713 862 4428 or email her at
One more thing: We need more MEN on this trip.
(Editor's Note: By the way, I recently received the following note
from one of last years cruisers that I thought I should share with
Dear Rick, I just ran across my diary from last year's cruise and
wanted to let you know how I personally saved your life and that of
everyone from SSQQ a year ago. You don't have to thank me though.
Some deeds are their own reward. Love, Sandy.
What a wonderful cruise this is going to be! I felt singularly
honored this evening. The Captain asked me to dine at his table.
I spent the entire afternoon on the bridge with the Captain.
The Captain made proposals to me unbecoming an officer and a
Tonight the Captain threatened to sink the ship if I do not give in
to his indecent proposals!
This afternoon I saved 1600 lives --- twice)
STORY FOUR: THE STORY OF THE BEST SOCK HOP IN
|STORY FOUR: THE STORY OF
SWING INSTRUCTOR DIANE HEAD AND
THE BEST SOCK HOP IN SSQQ HISTORY
Diane Head was a gracious lady who taught Swing
at SSQQ back in the late 80s. At the time, Diane was one of the
mainstays of perhaps the tightest-knit group of friends the
studio has ever seen.
Diane was the catalyst for the greatest SSQQ Sock Hop parties of
all time back in 1988. Practically the entire studio came to
this party which was basically Diane's "Going Away" party.
Over 200 people danced the night away in Diane's honor while
Diane herself was in for a pretty rough evening!!
This is the story of Diane Head and the most special SSQQ Sock
PICTURES FROM THE 2004 SOCK HOP
The 2004 Sock Hop was a big success with attendance
somewhere around 125 participants. There were many times when
both the Swing Dancers in Room 1 and the Whip Dancers in Room 4
simultaneously filled their dance space to capacity.
As usual we started the Sock Hop with the Stroll. Quite frankly, it
was a big mess. No one really wanted to go down the middle. And the
Staff Members I had assigned to recruit volunteers to go down the
middle of the Stroll Line decided they would go down the middle
instead... which meant no one was sending anyone down the middle. We
were strolling to an aisle of Ghost Dancers. So I left the
Stroll Line to find new Stroll Police, but then my Stroll Line lost
track of where they were in the dance. Pretty frightening.
Obviously a complete failure of leadership!! Just wait till I
find out who was responsible!
The Line Dances went very well. Everyone loves the Hand Jive. Even
the people sitting on their backsides somehow managed to dance right
along with the group on the floor.
I messed up the Raisin Dance again this year. Fortunately no one
booed. And I still can't dance the Pony or the Mashed Potato
worth a flip. My Mashed Potato looked like the Monster Mash. I am
Terrible!! Next year I am wearing a mask like I do at
Halloween. This way no one will ever know the identity of the
fool leading the dances. You say everyone will know it's me?
Wrong. I will wear glasses before putting on the disguise.
That worked for Clark Kent for four movies and I am sure it will
work for me too.
Maureen, Patty Oh, and I got some very nice smiles and compliments
for our impromptu Swing rendition of "Two Girls for Every Guy".
What a great fantasy!! It's actually a pretty cute dance to
watch. I will teach a workshop on "Two Girls" at the upcoming
Extravaganza in August. And guess what? Linda Cook says
you can do it to Salsa too. So look for the Salsa version of
"Two Girls" in another time slot.
Did anything out of the ordinary happen? Nope, not this year.
No engagements or proposals, no one lost their top on a flip, no one
fell on their head doing acrobatics, no mishaps other than the usual
toes stepped on and elbows in the ribs.
As they say, it was a fun party and a good time was had by all!!
Maureen Brunetti was nice enough to send me some of her pictures.
This explains why Maureen just happens to be in practically every
picture. Such a clever girl.
Maureen Brunetti and Steve
Patty Oh, Maureen, Rick in
"2 Girls 4 Every Boy"
Steve and Maureen in a Dip.
Steve and Gina Garza in the
Maureen and Bruce Hanka in
a hand hold
Maureen and Paul Foltyn in
the same hand hold
Patty Oh, Krista Johnson, Gina, Maureen, Gloria Sanchez, and
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.
Judging by a total lack of Richter activity in my Email Box, no one
else in Houston saw it either. Thank goodness. Now my secret
identity as a fugitive from a sordid marshmellow
crime in Yellowstone Park is safe.
OF THE REGULAR FEATURES SECTION
COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH:
SIX COMPLAINTS IN ONE MONTH!! A NEW RECORD.
In last month's Newsletter, I did the complaining. I
complained that my Email In-Box had remained empty of complaints for
the past three months. Well,
as they say, be careful what you ask for. Using current Houston
weather as a metaphor, when it rains it pours.
June 2004 easily broke all complaint records. We had more complaints
in June than any single month since perhaps early 2000. Did you say
you were curious about what happened in early 2000? "Living La
Vida Loca" brought to our door a veritable tidal wave of new Salsa students.
Registration Lines were out the door and our classrooms were stuffed beyond
comprehension. I got called a lot of mean things. "Filthy Profiteer"
is one I have no trouble remembering.
But that was then and this is now. Here goes.
INCIDENT ONE: SSQQ DROPS THE BALL AFTER A CLASS IS
Sent: Saturday, June 05,
2004 8:02 AM
realize that you do not know me, but I have taken about 5 classes at SSQQ
and absolutely have loved it until last night. I was signed up for Night
Club, a dance class that I was waiting for. I had actually e-mailed you
about it wondering when it was going to be taught and you responded and I
waited. Well, I guess only 4 people were signed up and the class was
cancelled. I was so disappointed but I do understand that you have rules
to abide by. What really upset me and the reason for this e-mail was how
it was handled. I was told that I can either join another class or get a
refund. Fair enough.
I sought out a schedule to see what was being offered. When I asked if I
could go home and see what I might want to take, I was told that I had to
make the decision right then and there. So I asked if I could "view" a
class to see if I wanted it. I was told no, either go to a class or get a
refund. I chose the refund. Now I did not have any trouble getting the
refund, but I felt that I was being pushed into a decision that I wasn't
sure I wanted. I just wanted to see if I would like what was going on and
if I was "qualified" to take it. I was going to go into the whip class or
the Martian class but had no idea what they were.
I think the best way I could see this being handled is for you to come in.
Now I realize that you are teaching a class, but all classes seem to have
2 people teaching and it would have been nice for you to relinquish the
class to the other person for 5 minutes to come in and explain our options
and maybe answer briefly what each class was.
I know I wasn't the only one that had questions about the other classes.
And as I was standing there trying to take this all in, I was asked to
leave because you were going to use the room. So I felt I was either being
told to dance or get out. Now I realize that is not the attitude of the
studio. I have enjoyed all my classes but I think that if a class is going
to be cancelled, it needs to be handled with a bit more finesse.
We were all willing to go private lessons with it, but was told that was
not an option, yet as I was leaving the instructor told me she would give
me private lessons at $44 good for 4 people, which is a bargain. I asked
her why she didn't say that in front of the others and she said that it
couldn't be at this time. I told her that it may not have mattered but the
option could have been discussed.
Again, I felt hurried and pushed into a decision. I want you to know that
when a schedule for the month comes up, I eagerly go to it and see what
classes I can take according to my schedule. I respect the studio and when
I tell others that I take dance lessons, I am asked if it is at SSQQ. You
are very well known around the Houston area (I am new to Houston, less
than a year) and I will certainly not tarnish any reputation that you have
worked so hard to obtain. That is not my motive at all. I just felt left
out in the cold. Another class, crash course, that I had planned on taking
was the Dallas two-step only to find out that was cancelled as well. I was
told that that was going to be taught as a course so if it is, I would
like to find out when. I was also told that the last weekend of July,
Night Club will be taught as a crash course, which I intend to take. But I
am still disappointed as were the others who were also waiting for this
course. If a course is taught so infrequently, maybe the numbers taking
it should not count because those who have signed up are eager to learn it
and are willing to wait for it to be taught.
you for taking time to read this.
I have thought about
your letter for four days. I don’t know any easy way to answer you that
will make you feel any better.
The class had to be
canceled. Four people doesn’t even pay the instructor’s salary.
As for picking another
class, I don’t really understand what the problem was, but going from room
to room doesn’t seem a very good answer. Why disrupt the other classes?
And I assume you know we have serious objections to having people observe
As far as me answering
your questions personally, I can see helping you at Break, but as for
leaving my class to answer your questions, I would have serious
reservations about that. I was fighting enough
serious disruptions to my poor students’
concentration as it was without adding another.
I can appreciate your
sense of disappointment. You came a long way for a class you had looked
forward to taking only to see it evaporate.
As for your sense of
being “hustled away”, I apologize for that, but on the other hand 20
people needed that room.
I don’t see a win-win
here and for this I am sorry.
INCIDENT TWO: THE INFAMOUS ROOM ONE SHARING INCIDENT
Sent: Monday, June 21, 2004 10:04 AM
I am writing to complain about your policy of doubling up room one. I get
sick and tired of trying to listen to my instructor trying to talk over
the loud woman on the other side of the curtain. I don't care what the
others say, they are just afraid of speaking up and telling the truth. It
is stupid to put two classes in one room and expect us to be able to
But even more than that, I would like to see you show some respect and
respond to my email instead of ducking it like a coward. This is the
second time I have sent this email.
Mr. Biggs, I do not duck complaints. I think I must have
mistaken your first email for spam. I get approximately 150 - 200 emails a
day. Unfortunately at most only 1 in 50 is a
legitimate email. Because my email address is on my web site, I think it
has been distributed to practically every spam list in existence.
The increased quantity
of spam is truly a disgusting development. I know for
a fact I have begun to miss actual correspondence because I am so
busy hitting the delete key. Your less than gracious
statement serves to underscore my conclusion.
At this point if I don't recognize the name of the sender and it is a
one-word subject, I have a tendency to deep six it in a flash. Spam is a
very serious problem that has made email a huge source of frustration for
me. After a recent 7-day vacation over Memorial Day, I returned
home to 3,000 emails. Only a dozen were legit and it took me two hours to
weed them out. Much of the extra traffic was created by my auto-responder,
but nevertheless I can trace my increasing impatience with email to that
I just happened to take a second look at your email today since the word
"irritated" caught my attention. It is likely I missed it went you sent it
the first time. Let me add that after I received your second email, I
decide to start making a list of all the one-word emails I got. Over a 24
hour period, I received 32 emails besides yours with one word in the
title. Let me add only yours turned out to be a legitimate email.
As for your complaint, it is a legitimate one if perhaps a bit more
angry-sounding than necessary. I don't think I can find a win-win on this
issue. If I cancel Advanced Swing or Zoot Suit on Mondays and move to six
rooms, then I upset the people who look forward to taking these advanced
classes. If I hold two classes in Room 1, then I risk alienating some of
our students, you included.
For now, I will simply ask my staff to work as hard as possible to lower
their voices and coordinate the music. I will ask the instructors to
experiment talking to their classes with their backs to the curtain.
Finally I will ask the instructor on the larger side of the curtain to
pull the students as far from curtain as possible.
But realistically, I promise you that if I continue to field complaints as
vehement as yours, I will have to find a way to reduce back to six classes
for six rooms. Your email did not break the camel's back, but it
definitely moved me a lot closer to throwing in the towel on double
classes for Room One.
(Rick's Note: Not all the emails on the
Room One problem were negative. Some were quite supportive.
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 3:36 PM
Subject: swing classes sharing a room
I am currently a student in Patty's advanced swing class. I have
absolutely no problem sharing the room with another class. Yes, it is a
challenge in some ways, and the class is totally worth it. Please do
not discontinue the advanced class.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 3:07 PM
Subject: Use of Room 1 for two classes
Rick, my wife and I were in the room last night when you talked about the
complaints regarding the simultaneous noise from the two classes. I
urge you to reconsider your possibly canceling advanced swing as a
class. We are in the advanced swing class, so assuming I can handle
the steps and moves, we will not be taking it again any time soon. As a
result, this possible decision does not affect us, but it is not a
good move to me for the following reasons:
(1) I don't believe most of the students care that much about the noise.
It is the result of many people wanting to dance, and it is a
minor convenience to most.
(2) I think it is more difficult for the teachers than the students. If
the teachers have a positive attitude, it will pass to most students.
(3) We have learned many steps that may not be taught as much if advanced
is done away with at this time. We have not taken Zoot Suit
classes, but the curriculum for those classes is already set. If
there is a need to divide Intermediate into two classes, the result will
eventually be as if Intermediate and Advanced over time in my
(4) The noise from the music and the group
behind the partition wall often makes more noise than
the other group in Room 1. (RICK'S NOTE: THAT'S MY
CLASS BEING TALKED ABOUT. HMM.)
(5) We want you to offer as much in training as the facilities will
allow, and we want you to maximize your gross income. That way, we
can go into the sunset learning new dances at
(6) Some people will complain about anything, and if you try to solve this
problem by their complaints, it will be something else next time.
You spent a lot of money to put in the curtain
(ABOUT A THOUSAND DOLLARS), and I think it is fine
for the short time we are there.
(7) Don't let a few ruin it for the majority on this issue. I think a
disclaimer before registering should suffice. It's a distraction at
first, but if you are there to learn it quickly diminishes in
(8) I hear more distracting noise in my living every night listening to
three children and ourselves carrying on five different
conversations while listening to the television,
telephone conversations, and whatever else is happening. People should
just learn to deal with it.
Often wrong but never in doubt, that is I. My wife feels the same way,
but I don't want to speak for her; she is quite capable of that
herself. Sorry for the long email, but I
appreciate your efforts to listen to
the students, run a great dance studio, deal with the non-dance
distractions yourself, and try to make a profit.
Rick's Note: The double
use of Room One is a tough call. There are several sides to the issue.
For example, the Southwest Whip Club runs THREE classes in one room at the
same time. They don't have a visual barrier like we do and their
solution to the music problem is simple - they don't play any music.
Nor do they have a Parallel Class where people can take the class in a room
all to themselves on another night at NO EXTRA CHARGE.
As I said, if the problem isn't solved by the instructors and complaints
continue, I will go ahead and simply cut out a Monday Swing class.
In the meantime I have issued the following instructions to our Staff:
After sifting through
all the complaints and suggestions regarding the use of two classes in
Room One, I have come to one conclusion - the music problem is the biggest
From now on, when two instructors are using Room One, I FORBID the use of
the separate jukeboxes.
Instead, use the main sound system from the DJ on a rotating basis. This
means the two instructors decide before class on what songs to play and
what speed and "When". I say turn down the lights and make dancing to the
music a special treat.
This way the timing, the speed, and the volume will be the same for both
sides which is the fairest way to do it. This also means the instructors
will need to plan somewhat ahead so they can coordinate when to play the
I will also ask Susan Schroeder to include Zoot Suit in the Room One
rotation so the same instructors don't have to be in Room One every month.
It might also be possible to rotate the classes within the month.
For example, Zoot Suit would be in Room 3 two nights of the month and in
Room One two nights of the month by swapping out with the smaller Room One
class. I will be happy to field your opinions on this idea.
I think in the case of the Room One complaints, one instructor was loud,
so the other instructor got louder, and neither really talked. The
students got caught in the middle and came to me. Now it's my job as
"studio owner" to find a solution.
To me, the problem sounds exactly like a metaphor on the nuclear
escalation btw the US and the Soviet Union. Although the stakes obviously
aren't quite as high, there are some clear parallels. In our case
obviously 'voice escalation' didn't work, so now we need to try
"disarmament", i.e. lowering our voices and keeping the communication
channels open btw the two instructors.
What I do know is the two Monday Swing instructors have to work as a team
or it is "Curtains" for either Zoot Suit or Advanced. I can't put two
ballroom classes in Room One since Tango, Cha Cha, Waltz and Foxtrot music
I am not angry with anyone or blaming anyone. I too have found teaching in
Room One stressful and difficult. All I am trying to do is come up with
some solutions and compromises so we can continue to have four Swing
classes on Monday. It is very important to me to have four Swing classes
on Monday. We saw how destructive it was taking Zoot Suit off of Monday.
Having seven classes on Friday is important too so we can boost attendance
at Friday Western Practice Night.
Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation on this difficult
RICK IS REFERRED TO AS A GESTAPO
Note: This letter is from an SSQQ Hall Monitor
I do not know the man's name but he was also rude to the instructor. When
she was reading the information about what is happening and when….he told
her, "DO YOU HAVE TO DO THAT NOW? And she told him that it was part
of her job and she could either do it then or after break…it took the same
amount of time. He didn't say anything else.
He didn't like it because I made him show his receipt for the class. He
told me you see me every week…can't you remember me? I told him it was my
job and it was your rules. I have to see everyone's including yours. He
said WELL RICK IS JUST A GESTAPO THAT'S ALL. I tried to explain we have
lots of students and even if I remember you' I don't remember what class
you are taking and when. He didn't say anything else.
Rick, even if you yell at us….we know you appreciate us because we do the
very best we can to make your place a nice place to visit. I have made a
lot of friends there and I love dancing. Your studio is the finest in
Houston as far as I hear from most of the people who have tried other
places. I love my job….I appreciate all the fine instructors who help me
close and I wouldn't ever do anything to change this and I think I can say
this for all the Hall Monitors. People come for fun and learning and they
(Rick's Note: The last
time I checked, I was expected to produce my ticket for the movie I had just
paid for. At SSQQ, if you lose your ticket, we even have a backup system on
the computer. The next time this gentleman behaves like this is the day he
is no longer welcome at my studio)
INCIDENT FOUR: NO TIME
TO TALK WITH RICK
Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 8:48 AM
Subject: Time to Talk with Rick
first off i would like to offer my congratulations to you and rick.
i am sending this to you instead of rick hoping i might get a reply. i
know the two of you are very busy with cruise and wedding coming up. i
have been trying to meet and talk to rick about the dance classes and how
my shift schedule affects my time. i have never been able to meet and
catch him and talk in an uninterrupted atmosphere. the one time i did get
to meet him and shake his hand another gentleman "rudely" walked in
between us and started talking to rick and rick started talking to him and
i was forgotten about. so there i was standing with my calendar open
trying explain my shift schedule and i just embarrassingly closed it and
walked away in the midst of people.
i started taking dance at ssqq last november 2003.
i live in victoria texas and work shift work. the way the dance calendar
goes i will always have to miss one week completely and on the other week
i have to take with another group. it ends up i only make two classes with
my original class, miss one week and have to go with another class. but
the last class has to be done "out of the window". in other words if
classes finish for me on a sunday, i have to go into that next week to
make up and i am out of the scheduled time that is on my payslip. one time
i attempted this and when i checked in on a monday (i was scheduled for
sundays), the lady tried to show me that my classes were over with, thus i
tried to explain my situation which the look on her eyes made me stop.
so i have been trying to talk with someone to explain this so i dont drive
150 miles to be told my class is over.
it is too difficult to explain except in person.
right now i have not been to ssqq since march 2004 because i have been
taking an emt course that will finish july end. then i wish to start back
in august. so i guess i will ask to talk to you guys in october and then
start from there.
i really enjoy your studio. of course i have never met anyone there, i
just show up and dance and drive back home.
i took comp dancing from an instructor for two years in houston before
they quit teaching. i was told about ssqq and decided to try it. of course
i would like to be able to take more private lessons but dont know if the
studio does that or whom to talk to. i want to do more in swing dancing
and ballroom, since i did comp in c and w.
thanks for you time, wishing all the best to you and yours.
PK, victoria texas.
Patrick, I read your
Are you really sure it is worth your while to drive 150 miles for a dance
You say you have trouble finishing the class you signed for in a single
And you say you haven't met anybody.
We did talk once over the phone. I remember going in how complicated you
said your schedule was with the shift work and all, but you and I agreed
to give it a try. At the time I thought our parallel class system would
work to your advantage, but apparently it hasn't.
Now after reading what you have said, I honestly do not think the group
classes are the way to go. Our studio just isn't set up for people to come
and go as they please. We knew it was risky and there is no shame in
throwing in the towel. My complicated dance studio and your complicated
schedule just can't click without more energy put into it than it is
Instead I recommend private lessons. You learn the material twice as fast
and you are certain not to return home disappointed. Give Linda Cook a
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.
INCIDENT SIX: THE
My wife and I are longtime participants in many of your dance offerings.
We most recently completed Beginning Blank with blank and blank as our
instructors. They were both excellent teachers (particularly blank)
preparing us for our current Intermediate blank classes on blank. To our
great disappointment our instructor for the first session was blank rather
If this is a one time only circumstance then not having blank this one
time is acceptable. Otherwise, We don't feel it is in our best interest to
continue on with blank as the instructor. If blank teaches the balance of
the classes then we would love to keep coming. But, if not, we would
appreciate a refund of our tuition or a free reschedule to blank's class
at a later time.
Rick, it is truly not in my character to criticize another individual. But
I must say, (as would most of the class) that blank is a totally
inadequate instructor from both a technical standpoint and a general
approach to teaching. We feel like we are taking a step backward with him
as our teacher. While blank may be a good dancer blank's skill does not
translate well to a teaching style.
RICK'S REPLY TO THE
It is my
understanding that BLANK is away on a business assignment. I am unaware of
the length of Blank's trip, but I feel certain Blank will return.
I was too angry at the
time to respond candidly to this email. This scathing email hurt worse than
all the other complaints above combined. The teacher in question is
well known for their endless willingness to help students who are
struggling. Furthermore the teacher in question is perhaps the best
person on the entire staff at motivating their students to stay and
practice. Finally, I know the teacher in question loves to teach and is
extremely popular with other students.
What is destructive about a letter like this is there nothing I can take
back to the teacher. How can I ever help this teacher improve with a letter
so devoid of content? "inadequate from a technical standpoint".
What does that mean? "inadequate general approach to teaching". What
does that mean?
My guess is the initial instructor is an excellent teacher. Good! And
that the initial instructor has a style that their students grew accustomed
to during the first month. Now the initial instructor is called away on
business and has no idea of a return date. So the initial instructor asks a
fellow instructor to cover. Makes sense to me.
But the substitute instructor has a different style. And the class doesn't
respond well to the unexpected loss of their preferred teacher. So they
start a bellyache campaign. Did you know I received ten complaint emails
from this class?
I have no received one complaining email about the instructor in question in
over a year. Suddenly I get 10 complaints in the span of a few days. Sounds
like someone organized a write-in campaign to me. Well, we heard you
loud and clear. We brought this instructor in for a long talk and hurt
their feelings a lot in the process. Unfortunately not one complaint had a
single suggestion we could take back to this instructor to help them
understand what the problem was. So we were forced to make this person sit
there and suffer without one lucid idea of what to say constructively.
I should know. I was the one who conducted the "visit to the office."
And you know what? I still don't know what the instructor did wrong
after all the stink that was raised. Not a clue.
The only thing this instructor is guilty of is trying to help out a friend.
What blank did to generate the amount of hostility sent to me still remains
a big mystery.
Refund. Fire them. Incompetent.
One hurting word after another and not one person offered a suggestion to
Well, something has to be done and something will be done. Read on.
Sent: Sunday, June 27, 2004 9:58 PM
Subject: teacher evaluations
How about having evaluations for the teachers about twice a year. With the
feedback, hopefully, they can get better and better. And the students will
feel as though someone is listening and cares. Thanks.
You asked for it so you got it.
The person above was one of the original contributors to the write-in
committee. The letter above was their follow-up.
At the suggestion of my friend Ted Weisgal, the owner of Leisure Learning,
we will make an addition to our program.
Starting in August, we will begin handing out "Instant Feedback"
forms. Students will fill them out at the end of class anonymously.
Then if there is something they want to get off their chest, they can do it
on the spot.
Hopefully a simple word to the wise can make expectations known up front and
we can steer towards the middle of each class for the remaining three weeks.
This is too big a change to implement in July since I will be on vacation.
So we will leave it at that. To Be Continued.
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 July 2004
The Female News Anchor - Juan Ramon
This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2 days and a
very embarrassed female news anchor who will, in the future,
likely think before she speaks.
What happens when you predict snow but don't get any?
There was a female news anchor who, the day after it was
supposed to have snowed and didn't, turned to the weatherman and
asked, "So Bob, where's that 8 inches you promised me last
Not only did HE have to leave the set, but half the crew did too
because they were laughing so hard!
A Day At The Beach - Ann Faget
On a tour of Texas, the Pope took a couple of days off to visit
the coastal area for some sightseeing. He was cruising along the
seawall in Galveston in his Pope mobile. Suddenly he noticed a
frantic commotion just off shore.
A helpless man, wearing a Texas A&M jersey, was struggling
frantically to free himself from the jaws of a 15-foot shark.
As the Pope watched, horrified, a speedboat came racing up with
three men wearing University of Texas jerseys aboard. One
quickly fired a harpoon into the shark's side. The other two
reached out and pulled the bleeding, semiconscious Aggie from
the water. Then using baseball bats, the three heroes beat the
shark to death and hauled it into the boat also.
Immediately the Pope shouted and summoned them to the beach. "I
give you my blessings for your brave actions," he told them. "I
heard that there was some bitter hatred between UT and A&M fans,
but now I have seen with my own eyes that this is not true."
As the Pope drove off, the harpooner asked his buddies "Who was
"It was the Pope," one replied. "He is in direct contact with
God and has all of God's wisdom."
"Well," the harpooner said, "he may have access to God's wisdom,
but he doesn't know squat about shark fishing. How's the bait
Don't Step on the Ducks - Bett Sundermeyer
Three women die together in an accident and go to heaven. When
they get there, St. Peter says, "We only have one rule here in
heaven: don't step on the ducks!"
So they enter heaven, and sure enough, there are ducks all over
the place. It is almost impossible not to step on a duck, and
although they try their best to avoid them, the first woman
accidentally steps on one.
Along comes St. Peter with the ugliest man she ever saw. St.
Peter chains them together and says, "Your punishment for
stepping on a duck is to spend eternity chained to this ugly
The next day, the second woman steps accidentally on a duck and
along comes St. Peter, who doesn't miss a thing. With him is
another extremely ugly man. He chains them together with the
same admonishment as for the first woman.
The third woman has observed all this and, not wanting to be
chained for all eternity to an ugly man, is very, VERY careful
where she steps. She manages to go months without stepping on
any ducks, but one day St. Peter comes up to her with the most
handsome man she has ever laid eyes on ... very tall, long
eyelashes, muscular, and thin.
St. Peter chains them together without saying a word.
The happy woman says, "I wonder what I did to deserve being
chained to you for all of eternity?"
The guy says, "I don't know about you, but I stepped on a duck!"
The Nuns at the Ballgame - Leroy Ginzel
Three men had been at the stadium bar drinking beer so long that
they didn't even make it to their seats until the second inning.
It was easy to notice the three nuns sitting in the seats in
front of them because the unusual top to their habits made it
slightly difficult to see over.
One guy decided it would be easier just to get them to move. In
a very loud move, he declared, "I think I'm going to move to
Utah. There are but a maybe a hundred nuns in the whole state."
The second guy caught on and joined in, "Nah, Montana is the
place to go. There are only 50 Nuns in Montana."
The third guy chimed in, "I bet Idaho is even better. There are
only 25 Nuns living in Idaho."
The middle nun turned around. She smiled at the three men and in
a very sweet voice said, "I have a better idea. Why don't you
three nice men go to Hell? I have it on authority there aren't
any Nuns there."
The Old Farmer and the Pond - Loni Lewellyn
An old farmer owned a large farm for several years. His favorite
spot was his large pond in the back. Over the years he had fixed
it up nice - picnic tables, horseshoe courts, shade trees,
lounge chairs, etc. In one part the pond was deep enough that he
was able to add a low-level diving
board. The farmer had even gone to the trouble of landscaping
the pond with rocks and lovely vegetation so that now it was
perfect for swimming.
Nor did the farmer mind sharing his treasure with his neighbors.
Over the years the pond had become a favorite swimming
hole for kids who were permitted to use it whenever they wished.
Late one night the old farmer was awakened by some soft
squeals of laughter. He decided to
check out the sound. He heard voices coming from the pond.
Curious, he quietly strolled over for a peek.
As he came closer he discovered it was
three young women skinny-dipping in his pond. Their clothes were
strewn on one of the tables. In
addition the table was covered with at two six-packs of empty
beer bottles. He smiled. It was good to see them having
However the old farmer had a bit of
the prankster in him and now he sensed an
opportunity. He called out to the three girls
to announced his presence. They all
screamed and swam to the deep end of the pond.
One of the girls shouted, "Mr. Jones,
we're not coming out of this pond until you leave!!"
Farmer Jones smiled and said, "That's perfectly okay, girls, you
can stay in there as long as you like. I just came down to see
if my snake trap caught that water moccasin I saw in there
earlier. But don't worry; I'm sure
it's safe now."
Screaming, the three girls leaped from the pond.
They could care less that they were giving Farmer Jones a
very pleasant view. Plus there would be all
the fun at teasing them the next time he saw them.
He smiled all the way home after the girls left.
Chalk up another victory for age
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
From June 17 through July 18,
SSQQ Whip and Ballroom Instructor Bethany Daniels will be starring in
Main Street Theater's
"Seussical! The Musical"
Seussical creates the witty, wild and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss as
it has never been seen before. As chaos erupts in the Jungle of Nool,
it will take the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude
McFuzz (Bethany!!), and a gaggle of
characters to bring harmony back to their world. The action begins
when Horton hears voices from a speck of dust and discovers a tiny
race of creatures, known as Whos, living on the tiniest planet in the
Although ridiculed by the other animals in the Jungle, Horton persists
in his belief that the Whos exist. Meanwhile the citizens of Who are
having some adventures of their own. JoJo, the smallest child in the
city of Who is ostracized for the unpopular act of thinking…an
activity not encouraged by the parents and teachers of Whoville. In
spite of obstacles, JoJo and Horton attempt to do what they think is
right, and soon the other animals of the jungle come to understand, as
Horton has always known, that "a person's a person, no matter how
For tickets and
more information please call 713-524-6706
Main Street Theater - Chelsea Market
4617 Montrose Blvd.
All this stardom is great. But why does Bethany win the
prestigious "SSQQ Employee of the Month" award?
By day, Bethany holds down a demanding full-time job at the Jewish Community
Center. By night, Bethany had to commit to a month of rehearsals six
nights a week and a month of performances six nights a week to be in the
That's a demanding schedule. And isn't it safe to assume that a lady
as pretty and vivacious as Bethany would have more than a few social offers
a week to choose from?
Yet with only one night off a week, Bethany came and helped teach Tango
class as an assistant instructor. Bethany knew full well that we could
probably succeed without her, but she was willing to continue her commitment
as an instructor.
And while I am at it, let me add that Bethany is one of the most talented
instructors we have ever had. Bethany's unique talent is her ability
to explain leads in a clear and concise way to our male students. At the
same time somehow she magically is able to avoid hurting their feelings.
Her combination of tact, perception, and ability to analyze what went wrong
and how to fit it is amazing to watch!
I deeply appreciate Bethany's help.
Thank you, Bethany.
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THE WINNERS OF
LAST MONTH'S SSQQ LOGIC PUZZLE
THE JUNE SSQQ LOGIC PUZZLE:
MARA RIVAS BUYS A CONDO AND INVITES ALL HER FRIENDS TO LIVE WITH
The June logic puzzle
saw some very interesting developments.
SSQQ Logic Diva Mara Rivas appeared in her very own logic
puzzle. You see, Mara was our very first Logic Queen
dating back to the start of her glory days in late 2002.
She was doing SSQQ Logic Puzzles in the days when the SSQQ Logic
Puzzle wasn't cool. So I thought it would be a nice homage to
set her up as the star of her very own puzzle. Alas, I never
ever could have anticipated the horrible consequences of my
In Real Life, Mara manages a large apartment
complex. In Real Life, Mara goes dancing every night. So
imagine how close Logic approached Reality in last month's
puzzle. Here was the write-up:
"Mara Rivas was getting sick and tired of driving back and forth
back and forth between her house and the SSQQ Dance Studio. She
often joked to her friends she ought to just sleep on the couch
and save a lot of time. Then one day she noticed a condo for
sale right across the street from the studio!!
After some inquiries and some hustling, Mara managed to buy the
condo and then she invited all her best friends to come live
with her!! At first, Marlies, Mack, Nancy, George, and James
were all excited. They thought were being asked to move in with
Mara as roommates for free!!
Then they got a little confused and thought all six of them were
about to become the SSQQ version of "Friends". Several people
drooled with anticipation at just how friendly things might get!
Mara's reputation was in great peril for a moment there.
Then they finally figured it out and realized they were actually
expected to move into separate apartments and expected to pay
rent to boot. Too bad, so sad. Fortunately they managed to keep
their disappointment to themselves."
Unfortunately Mara got a little too excited for her own good.
She used very poor judgment and didn't take her time to think
through every possibility. As a result, every time she
submitted an answer, she had a different man living in her
I mean, her reputation was headed towards the gutter due to some
very poor decisions!! I was so worried that perhaps
unconscious desires were secretly sabotaging her ability to
Then Mara got even more confused than I could have ever
imagined. Mara has always struck me as a sensible girl, one who
calculates each new move carefully. But for a moment there, Mara
lost it completely and moved in with her best friend Marlies. I
was too nervous to pry any deeper.
Finally, after one humiliating moment after another, Mara saw
the error of her ways. She showed some pride by correctly
identifying the location of the apartment she should have been
in from the start. I could not have been happier for her.
- Gary D’Antoni (First time winner!)
- Sorrell Warren (First time winner!)
- Connie and Jeff Woodman (Eleven months
in a row!)
- Susan Arevalo (Ten months in a row!)
- Ritesh Laud (Fourth month in a
- Mara Rivas (Second month in a row
and now living independently!)
- Ann Faget (Eleven months in a
I would like to take the
time to congratulate my friends Gary D'Antoni and Sorrell
Warren. A month ago, they made the mistake of correctly
solving the infamous Einstein Logic Puzzle which
lives here on the SSQQ Web Site. This puzzle
is no walk in the park. You have to have excellent logic skills
to solve it.
So I challenged both men to take a crack at the Mara Condo
Puzzle. I said at the time that I would check back in a
month and report their progress. I am now pleased to
report that with their Reason unclouded by any deep-seated
desires, both Sorrell and Gary solved this difficult puzzle
on their first try. Good work, guys!!
In the meantime, our champions continued to show their prowess.
Connie and Jeff matched Ann wit for wit. Susan continued
to tail them one month behind, just waiting for them to slip!
Susan knows she is just one spot removed from the top and is
hatching more plots than Dick Cheney looking for ways so she
could take over!!
And our Salsa Superstar Ritesh Laud seems to
solve each new puzzle effortlessly. He too is just biding his
time watching for signs of unsteadiness at the top.
Truly, there is more intrigue in the SSQQ Logic Club than even
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!
THE NEW LOGIC PUZZLE
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SSQQ LOGIC PUZZLE
THE JULY SSQQ LOGIC PUZZLE:
SHE LOVES YOU YEAH YEAH YEAH!!
Back in the 60s the
Beatles became an instant sensation after their
historic appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show" on February
9, 1964. Practically overnight the Beatles skyrocketed to
an incredible level of popularity here in America.
People began to buy their music in record numbers.
Furthermore at this point you could not turn on the radio
without finding a Beatles song playing somewhere on your
The demand for Beatles music led to an odd coincidence.
One afternoon at Radio Station KSSQ, DJ Rick noticed that
the same 5 Beatles songs had occupied the top 5 spots in
his station's weekly hit parade for 5 consecutive weeks.
After looking a little closer, Rick then
discovered that all five songs had not only taken a turn at
being Number One, they had alternated positions so cleverly that
none of the songs had ever been in the same position more than
once. In other words, each song was in a different position each
From the information, can you determine how each song ranked
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THE WORST SSQQ PUN OF THE MONTH
(There is no such thing as a
||THE SSQQ PUNS OF THE MONTH
Contributed by Michelle Wann
(They were short and two the point)
Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the
other and says "Dam!"
Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my electron."
The other says "Are you sure?"
The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."
THE SSQQ VOCABULARY WORD OF THE MONTH
Indiana Teen Casts
Spell over National
WASHINGTON -- A 14-year-old Indiana boy mastered "autochthonous"
to win the National Spelling Bee Thursday, outdueling 264
rivals, including one who fainted on stage but recovered to take
David Tidmarsh of South Bend covered his face with his hands,
overwhelmed, after getting the winning word.
Moments earlier, he had hid behind his placard, then
lowered it to show tears in his eyes, after nailing "gaminerie"
-- defined as an impudent or wisecracking spirit -- to make the
15th and final round.
"I was just hoping that I got a word I studied," he said.
David won the top-prize package of $12,000, plus an additional
$5,000, encyclopedias, a $1,000 savings bond and a reference
library from other sponsors.
Submitted by Rick Archer
Okay, admit that you don't know the answer. Let's try multiple
a) hard of hearing
c) Spiderman's Greatest Nemesis
h) the latest Salsa Dance
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: SSQQ DANCE INSTRUCTORS RANDY
WINFREY AND MELISSA GAUTHIER GET ENGAGED!!
Sorry it took so long to respond, to many irons in the
fire. Business trip to Washington in early May, Texas
Classic C&W dance competition in Mid-May, and a trip to
Maine over the Memorial Day weekend has kept me way too
busy this month.
Well, yes I asked Melissa to marry me on April 16 and she
said yes! I had given her a 1/4 carat diamond promise ring
on Valentine's Day as a pre-engagement, Melissa called it
"Mini-Me", as a reference to the midget Dr. Evil character
in the Austin Powers movies. She now has the big "Rock" if
you want to see it. I lost count of how many times she
asked me if the "Big One" was ready, but I really enjoyed
keeping her off-balance about when it would be.
We are still mulling a date for the wedding as of now,
looks like maybe sometime in April, 2005.
I met Melissa while assisting Rachel Seff-Koenig in her
Western classes in May, 2002. That particular group of
people was very energetic and spawned several romances
from that one class alone. Melissa was very popular in
class as she has a very bright cheerful personality, is
very cute, and I noticed that right away. However, she and
Eduardo seemed to be keeping company together, so I bided
my time and stayed in the shadows. When it was apparent
that venture had faded, I pounced because I knew she would
not be available for long. We started dating June 27, 2002
and have not looked back since. I should add that Rachel
was very happy about the engagement and quickly added
Melissa & I as a new notch on her matchmaker's post!
The dance and romance magic of SSQQ has definitely worked
for Melissa and I, we now thoroughly enjoy teaching our
own western classes watching future budding romances in
the making as well as helping people learn to social
We subsequently signed up for the famously successful
August, 2002 cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's "The Rhapsody
of the Seas", sponsored by SSQQ. The cruise could not have
gone better, weather was perfect, the boat was perfect,
the ports were perfect, Melissa was beautiful, and we had
150+ of our SSQQ buddies to hang out with!! This cruise
more than made up for the Carnival Cozumel/Cancun cruise
diverted to a mud hole (Vera Cruz) in August, 2001.
We left Galveston and immediately set out discovering the
ship. The Rhapsody of the Seas was incredible, it
completely blew away Carnival's Celebration with it's
decor, class and amenities. The second night at sea, the
ship had the first formal night, the Captain's ball. It
was great dressing up and having a 5-star dinner before
heading for the main theater for some big-band dancing
(Slow dance, West and East Coast Swing). There was formal
picture taking with the ship's photographers in and around
the atrium area during the formal night. After pictures,
Melissa and I danced the night away!
After arriving in Key West, we snorkeled for 3 hours out
on the coral reef seeing many wonderfully colorful fish as
well as a lobster or two, after that we hit the souvenir
shops to spend some money, and then spent the rest of the
night getting sloppy with margaritas at "Sloppy Joe's".
This place has food, drinks, a live blues band , and an
adequately-sized dance floor for say West Coast Swing. Key
West has so many great bars to check out, it would take
several cruises to get to them all!
Next stop was Grand Cayman! We headed out for the Stingray
Sandbar tour with a small entourage of SSQQers (about 10)
and had a blast! Ask Maureen Brunetti, she was there! We
got to touch, feed, and generally play with these gentle
creatures in the swimming pool-like area of the sandbar.
As a bonus, Melissa and I got to hold a stingray in our
arms until the ray decided he had enough of that. What
fun!! After the stingray encounter, the boat pulled off to
an area nearby and we got to snorkel for another 30-45
minutes before time to head-in. Our boat captain, Eldon,
then discovered that the boat engine would not start.
After several minutes of trying to coax it to start, he
gave up, but he told us, "No problem, my cousin is right
over there, he'll give us a tow". So that's how we got
back, his cousin's boat towed us in!! After the stingray
tour, we got off at Seven Mile beach and finished the
afternoon there riding a Jet Ski, getting something to
eat, and catching some rays on this spectacular white sand
Our last stop on the cruise was Cozumel, and it was
fabulous! We first headed to Playa Del Sol beach for some
more snorkeling. They have a huge roped off area for
snorkelers and swimmers that keeps the jet skiers out. We
then visited the big thatched cabana area to get something
to eat, and checked out the beach for some sun-tanning
action. After that Melissa got a $20 massage from one of
the masseurs on-site. We then headed back to the ship to
clean up a bit for the next adventure, the BOND excursion.
This consists of snorkeling for an hour, then riding an
underwater moped called a BOND, and after all that a
satisfying Fajita dinner with margaritas to finish it
off!! We again saw many wonderful and colorful fish, the
water at Cozumel is crystal clear, you can see to the
bottom almost everywhere. Here's a tip, if you want
zillions of fish around you for pictures when you snorkel,
just take a couple of the little boxes of cereal from the
breakfast bar aboard the ship and pop them open
underwater, dispose of the box properly and you will have
more fish than you know what to do with! Corn flakes work
great, Fruit Loops seem to work even better!!
On the way back to Galveston, the ship had another formal
night which provided another round of eating, dancing,
picture taking and memory making, we enjoyed the after
dinner dancing immensely. We spent the balance of the
trip, eating, dancing, sun-bathing by the pool, souvenir
shopping, playing bingo, hitting the casino, and seeing
the great evening shows in the main theater. We really
enjoyed this cruise and look forward to going again soon!!
This cruise helped Melissa and I get to know each other
even better, stoking our romance, and helping to cement
the feelings that we had developed for each other. Since
the cruise, Melissa and I have joined the staff at SSQQ as
co-instructors in the C&W western classes on Sunday
nights. I have also begun to dance
competitively, and Melissa has been very supportive
in helping me practice for the events. Melissa and I enjoy
teaching very much, and we both look forward to continuing
the dance & romance tradition at SSQQ.
I hope this brings you up to date! We'll keep you abreast
of things as the wedding gets closer!
(Rick's Note: No finer testimony to a
bride-to-be has ever been written than the one above. Very
eloquent and very sweet. Thank you, Randy. And don't you
all agree Melissa looks lovely in her picture!!)
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE: SHARON CRAWFORD
AND BILL SHAW ANNOUNCE THEIR ENGAGEMENT!
Sharon made this announcement to me the day
before the July Newsletter came out. Don't got no pictures,
don't got no story, all I got is I got to see da ring.
Sharon promises a picture and da inside scoop for next month.
She better not try to get off the hook!!
Sharon and Bill have been going together for about a year and a
half. Marla and I drove up to visit with Susie Merrill one
weekend last fall. I could tell these guys were a happy pair.
Their teamwork was flawless all weekend long. They were so
relaxed and in harmony. I have known Sharon for seventeen
years. She has definitely found the right guy. Bill Shaw
is a great guy.)
A MYSTERY SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE
ANNOUNCE THE DATE OF THEIR WEDDING!!
All I am going to say is the information is
hidden somewhere in this Newsletter. Find it if you can.
VENUS AND MARS
These little nuggets should be pleasure to
the eyes of every gal who has been around the block a time or
two looking for a few good men and coming up empty-handed. Enjoy
a chuckle or two at the Boy's expense.
Contributed by Rick Archer
What do you call a handcuffed man? Trustworthy.
What does it mean when a man is in your bed gasping for breath
and calling your name? You didn't hold the pillow down long
Why do only 10% of men make it to heaven? Because if they all
went, it would be Hell.
Why do men like smart women? Opposites attract.
How are husbands like lawn mowers? They're hard to get
started, they emit noxious odors, and half the time they don't
How can you tell when a man is well hung? When you can just
barely slip your finger in between his neck and the noose.
Why do men whistle when they're sitting on the toilet?
Because it helps them remember which end they need to
How do men define a "50/50" relationship? We cook-they eat; we
clean-they dirty; we iron-they wrinkle.
How do men exercise on the beach? By sucking in their stomachs
every time they see a bikini.
How do you get a man to stop biting his nails? Make him wear
How does a man show he's planning for the future? He buys two
cases of beer instead of one.
How is Colonel Sanders like the typical male? All he's
concerned with is legs, breasts and thighs.
How many men does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Answer One: Only one. Men will screw anything.
Answer Two: Three - one to screw in the bulb, and two to
listen to him brag about the screwing part.
What did God say after creating man? I can do so much better.
Why do little boys whine?
Because they're practicing
to be men.
Why are hurricanes usually named after women?
A: Because when they arrive,
they're wet and wild, but when they
go, they take your house and car.
What do most men consider a gourmet restaurant? Any place
without a drive-up window.
What do you call a man with half a brain? Gifted.
What do you do with a bachelor who thinks he's God's gift to
women? Exchange him.
What should you give a man who has everything? A woman to show
him how to work it.
What's a mans' idea of honesty in a relationship? Telling you
his real name.
What's the best way to force a man to do sit ups? Put the
remote control between his toes.
What's the difference between Big Foot and an intelligent man?
Big Foot's been spotted several times.
What's the smartest thing a man can say? "My wife says..."
Why are all dumb blond jokes one liners? So men can understand
Why did God create man before woman? Because you're always
supposed to have a rough draft before creating your
Why do female black widow spiders kill the males after mating?
To stop the snoring before it starts.
Why do jocks play on artificial turf? To keep them from
Why do men need instant replay on TV sports? Because after 30
seconds they forget what happened.
Why does it take 100 million sperm to fertilize one egg?
Because not one will stop and ask for directions.
Why is it good that there are female astronauts? When the crew
gets lost in space, at least the woman will ask for
Why is psychoanalysis a lot quicker for men than for women?
When it's time to go back to his childhood, he's already
Hey Guys, anyone got
some retaliation ammunition? Are we gonna let the girls
have a laugh of this magnitude without fighting back??
Bring it on.
RETURN TO HEADLINES
RETURN TO REGULAR FEATURES
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!!
So, no new jokes
from last year's issue made it to "Hall of Fame".
Better luck next month!!
My favorite jokes from June include two excellent Engineer
jokes, a highly misunderstood set of professionals that are
easily teased because they lack the verbal skills to fight back.
One joke even has the Engineers triumphing over that hated
profession known as the Lawyers. It is so clever I featured it
as the joke of the month. Another good joke to check out is the
"Hero and the Biker Gang" joke, a classic!
July Clean Side Jokes
July CS 01: The Funeral Procession - Sylvia Key
July CS 02: Life Imitates Art (A True Story) - Ralph Volz
July CS 03: X-Files: The Roswell Incident - Gary Richardson
July CS 04: The Blonde and the Lawyer - John Hall
July CS 05: The Blonde and the Coke Machine - Kerry Pelham and
July CS 06: The Magic Mermaid - Donna Ruth
July CS 07: The Traveling Salesman - Jill Banta
July CS 08: The Newlywed - Richard Barrett
July CS 09: The Last Straw - Mike Guillory
July CS 10: Don't Fall Asleep in Church - Sharon Russell
July CS 11: The Broadway Show - Kathleen Parker
July CS 12: An Interesting Experiment - Gary Richardson
July CS 13: Pluses, Minuses, and Differences - Donna Ruth
July CS 14: Aggie Obituary - Rick Archer
July CS 15: Waiting at the Pearly Gates - Gary Richardson
July CS 16: The Aggie Van Gogh - Judy Walsh
July CS 17: The Jewish Father - Gary Richardson
July CS 18: The Smartest Dog - Judy Walsh
July CS 19: Two Priests - Chris Holmes
July CS 20: Country-Western Music - Chris Holmes
July CS 21: The Speeding Ticket - Mike Gerstenberger
July CS 22: The Aggie Painter - Angela Dolezal
July CS 23: Cajun Math - Gary Richardson
July CS 24: You Know You are in Houston When - Pat Roberts
July CS 25: The Seeing-Eye Dog - Carole Nelson
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
July CS 04: The Blonde and the Lawyer
Submitted by John Hall
A lawyer and a blonde woman are sitting next to each other on a
long flight from LA to NY. The lawyer leans over to her and asks
if she would like to play a fun game. The blonde is tired and
just wants to take a nap, so she politely declines and rolls
over to the window to catch a few winks. The lawyer persists,
saying that the game is really easy and a lot of fun. He
explains how the game works: "I ask you a question, and if you
don't now the answer, you pay me, and visa-versa."
Again, she politely declines and tries to get some sleep. The
chauvinistic lawyer figures that since his opponent is a blonde
he will easily win the match, so he makes another offer:
"Okay, how about this "If you don't know the answer you pay me
only $5, but if I don't know the answer, I will pay you $50."
This catches the blonde's attention. Figuring there will be no
end to this torment unless she agrees to
play, she accepts his offer.
The lawyer asks the first question. "What's the distance from
the earth to the moon?"
The blonde doesn't say a word, reaches into her purse, pulls out
a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the lawyer.
Now it's the blonde's turn. She asks the lawyer, "What goes up a
hill with three legs and comes down with four?"
The lawyer stares at her with a
puzzled look. The woman
smiles at him quizzically, then closes
her eyes and prepares to nap. Undaunted
he takes out his laptop computer and searches all his
references. He taps into the Airphone with his modem and
searches the Net and even the Library of Congress. Frustrated,
he sends E-mails to all his co-workers and friends he knows. All
to no avail. After over an hour of fruitless searching for the
answer he realizes the plane is landing so he throw in the
towel. Besides he is dying to solve the Riddle.
He wakes up the blonde.
"What's the answer??"
"Where's my $50?"
Rolling his eyes, he fishes in his pocket and hands
over two twenties and two fives.
The blonde politely takes the $50, then closes her eyes again.
The lawyer, who is more than a little frustrated, taps her on
the shoulder and asks, "Well, lady, so what IS the answer?"
The Blonde opens her eyes, reaches into her purse, hands
back the lawyer one
of the $5 bills,
then shrugs her shoulders. "Beats the
Hell out of me."
RETURN TO HEADLINES
RETURN TO REGULAR FEATURES
RETURN TO SPECIAL FEATURES
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
July Blue Side Jokes
July BS 01: The Koala Bear & the Hooker - Dana Pattison
July BS 02: Love in the Ozarks - Gary Richardson
July BS 03: The Casino and the Blonde - Richard Barrett
July BS 04: Will You Marry Me? - Sharon Russell
July BS 05: Rodeo Romeo - Mary Collins
July BS 06: Dopey Meets the Pope - Donna Ruth
July BS 07: The Blonde Phones Home - Ralph Volz
July BS 08: Picking a Fight in the Bar - Maureen Brunetti
July BS 09: The Old Man and the Old Lady - Richard Barrett
July BS 10: The Texas Hookers - Carole Nelson
July BS 11: Cajun Vacation - Pat Roberts
July BS 12: The Kid and the Boyfriend - Andre Faust
July BS 13: The Married Couple - Andre Faust
July BS 14: The Neighbor - Chris Holmes
July BS 15: The Ape and the Little Old Lady - Janis Howard
July BS 16: The Ugliest Wife in the World - Mike Guillory
July BS 17: The Clever Stock Boy - Bobby Bush
July BS 18: Me Tarzan, You Jane - Mary Collins
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!
July BS 18: Me Tarzan, You Jane
Submitted by Mary Collins
One day Jane met Tarzan in the jungle for the first time. She
was very attracted to him; he was so muscular and handsome.
During her questions about his jungle life, Jane asked how he
managed for sex. "What's that?" Tarzan asked. So Jane found a
huge banana and plunged it repeatedly into an overripe mango.
Tarzan nodded immediately with understanding. "Oh, Tarzan use
hole in trunk of tree," he replied.
Horrified, Jane said, "Oh, Tarzan, you have it all wrong! Let me
show you how to do it properly!"
With that, she took off her clothes, laid down on the ground,
and spread her legs wide. "Here, Tarzan," Jane said pointing to
the appropriate spot, "put your big banana in here."
Tarzan removed his loincloth, stepped closer, sniffed a couple
times, stepped back, then suddenly gave Jane an almighty kick in
"OWWWWWW!" Jane screamed in agony. Jane rolled round and around
on the grass writhing in agony as Tarzan watched her with a
worried look. Finally she managed to breathe again. With a gasp
Jane said, "Gee whiz, Tarzan, what in the hell did you do that
"Tarzan check for bees first!"
START OF THE SPECIAL FEATURES SECTION
SPECIAL FEATURE ONE
Rick's Note: This is
a story I have followed with interest over the past couple of
years. It involves a school teacher who was dismissed from her
job after reporting a gun shot had been fired into her room.
No one believed her and she was subsequently forced to leave
I realize that for legal reasons and matters of taste the
Chronicle writers toe a narrow line when they report the
facts. As a result some of the writing is dry and
repetitive. It would be much more fun if I could add my
opinions between the lines, especially in this one.
However I have no first-hand knowledge of the case, so I will
hold back other than to say I hate it when people are treated
such senseless hostility.
Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: TUE 03/05/02
Teacher fired revolver into empty class, police charge
By RUTH RENDON
FRIENDSWOOD - A Friendswood Junior High School teacher who
reported gunshots fired into her classroom in November has been
indicted on a charge that she brought a gun onto campus.
Authorities said teacher Norvella Susette Gibson fired a shot
into her own classroom before the school day started Nov. 30. A
few hours later, Gibson reported someone had fired three shots
into her classroom. That led to a four-hour lockdown of the
A Galveston County grand jury Friday indicted Gibson , 54, of
Kemah, on charges that she carried a weapon into a place where
possession of a firearm is prohibited.
A bullet casing from a .357-caliber Magnum revolver was found in
Gibson 's classroom in a temporary building at the campus at 402
Laurel, Friendswood Police Chief Robert B. Wieners said. The
bullet had pierced a wall and skimmed the teacher's desk before
landing on the floor. No one was hurt.
The day of the shooting, police reported three shots were fired
between two portable buildings.
"We conducted a broad-based, intensive investigation and were
able to establish that it was one shot that was fired, instead
of the original three that were reported," Wieners said. "We
were able to identify the approximate time of the shot being
fired earlier in the morning before school started when no
students were on campus and present in the classroom."
The chief said witnesses reported hearing a gunshot at 6 a.m.
Gibson , who goes by Susette, reported to campus administrators
at 9:12 a.m. that shots had been fired.
The 20 children who were in Gibson 's classroom also were
interviewed. The majority said they did not hear any gunshots,
while some said they thought they heard something, Wieners said.
The police chief would not comment on why Gibson would have
fired a gun into her own classroom.
"They did a pretty intensive investigation, and based upon
witness statements that they were able to gather and some of the
findings that they were able to uncover, it led directly to
her," said Mo Ibrahim, an assistant Galveston County district
Gibson was unavailable for comment, but her husband, Paul, said
police "are just trying to pin something on somebody because
they don't want to admit that something like that happens in
"As far as I'm concerned, it's just a deal about trying to get
her out of that school over there. My wife hasn't done
anything," Paul Gibson said. "Everybody in this part of the
country knows my wife, and she's got a good reputation. She's
been teaching there 19 years, and this is just a bunch of
Susette Gibson , who has been on administrative leave with pay
since Nov. 30, taught language arts and reading, said Karolyn
Gephart, a spokeswoman for the school district.
"This is just one of them political things," Paul Gibson said.
"I'm not saying that they may get away with something, because I
don't know what they got. They can't have anything, because she
ain't done nothing."
Paul Gibson said he would like to see a thorough investigation.
"There's been no investigation on anybody but her. There are
other people that are much more involved in this than she would
ever be. They just won't touch it," he said.
Paul Gibson said authorities first tried to pin the shooting on
him, but he was a patient at the Houston Veterans Affairs
Medical Center that day.
"When they found they couldn't pin it on me, they turned around
and started to work on her. It's all a Friendswood political
thing, that's all it is," he said. "It's just a handful of
political stuff that those good old rich folks in Friendswood
just don't want to put up with. I guess they are going to try
their best to get my wife out of there and make her lose her
The day of the shooting, the 860-student campus of seventh- and
eighth-graders was ordered into lockdown. Classroom doors were
locked, lights turned off and pupils ordered to sit on the floor
against a wall. All other schools in Friendswood were alerted to
keep students inside.
Students at the junior high school were dismissed early that day
after a search of lockers and backpacks turned up nothing.
Police used metal detectors to check pupils before they went
home. No gun was recovered.
Wieners said no gun has been recovered from Gibson .
School Superintendent Walter Wilson said the district had not
had any problems with Susette Gibson . "She has been a good
employee," he said.
If convicted, Gibson could face two to 10 years in prison. A
warrant for her arrest is expected later this week.
Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: THU 05/16/02
Board OKs termination in gun-firing /Teacher indicted on weapons
charge could appealdismissal
By RUTH RENDON
FRIENDSWOOD - The Friendswood school board is proceeding with
plans to fire a junior high school teacher accused of firing a
bullet into her own classroom.
Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to notify Norvella Susette
Gibson that her contract is to be terminated, school district
spokeswoman Karolyn Gephart said.
Gibson, 54, of Kemah, has been on paid administrative leave
since the November incident. She was indicted in March on
charges of carrying a weapon into a place where possession of a
firearm is prohibited.
"I told them (the school district) there was a thing of
`innocent until proven guilty,' " Gibson said. "Considering that
I've been with them 19 years and never, ever had any kind of
problem, I would think they would consider that. Apparently,
they all decided I was guilty because that's what the police
Police said Gibson fired a shot into her own classroom before
the school day started Nov. 30. She reported a few hours later
that someone had fired three shots into the room, leading to a
four-hour lockdown of the campus.
Police found a bullet from a .357-caliber Magnum pistol in
Gibson 's classroom in a temporary building. They said it had
pierced a wall and skimmed the teacher's desk before landing on
the floor. No one was hurt.
Although police were told that three shots were fired, Chief
Robert B. Wieners said investigators found that only one had
been fired and that it was fired before any pupils were on
Witnesses reported hearing a gunshot about 6 a.m., Wieners said,
but Gibson reported the shooting shortly after 9 a.m. He said
police never found a gun.
After the shooting, the 860-pupil campus of seventh- and
eighth-graders at 402 Laurel was ordered into lockdown.
Classroom doors were locked, lights turned off and pupils
ordered to sit on the floor against a wall.
Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: SAT 10/12/02
Examiner faults teacher's firing / Hearingfinds Friendswood
district acted improperly in gun case
By KEVIN MORAN
FRIENDSWOOD - A 19-year Friendswood teacher indicted on charges
of bringing a gun onto school grounds was wrongfully terminated,
a state examiner concluded.
Friendswood police and prosecutors maintain that Norvella
Susette Gibson fired a bullet through the wall of her own
temporary classroom building about two hours before classes
began on Nov. 30.
The Friendswood school board voted in May to dismiss Gibson -
not for allegedly shooting into her classroom but on grounds she
made two false reports to superiors about gunshots being fired
during class time.
But the school district failed to conduct any investigation of
its own and the board based its vote on "hearsay which was
arbitrarily provided" by police, attorney Robert J. Thomas said
in a recommendation that the district reinstate Gibson, 54.
In addition, the school board never saw a videotape showing
three Friendswood Junior High School students burying a pistol
at an unknown location and saying they didn't like Gibson ,
The videotape was made the same day Gibson claimed a bullet
pierced her classroom wall and landed on her desk, just inches
from her and just a few feet from 20 students, Gibson attorney
Anthony Griffin said Friday.
The videotape, which Thomas termed "exculpatory," was delivered
to school officials by a parent of one of the three boys who
made the tape, Griffin said.
Griffin said he hadn't seen the tape but believes it shows
Gibson did not fire a weapon.
Authorities say Gibson panicked the entire school by making a
false report of shots into her classroom at 9:12 a.m.
Gibson, who taught language arts and reading, could not be
reached for comment Friday. When she was indicted, however, her
husband, Paul Gibson, said his wife did nothing wrong.
Thomas was named independent examiner by the Texas Education
Agency. After Gibson appealed her case, Thomas held a hearing at
which school officials, Friendswood police and others testified.
Although the board voted to fire Gibson , she has remained
suspended with pay while the appeal proceeds, said Houston
attorney Jeff Horner, who represented the district at the TEA
Thomas said school officials lacked access to evidence gathered
by police and there were large gaps in police documents provided
Thomas recommended the district put Gibson back to work.
"No Texas public school teacher should be terminated based on
rumor, speculation and/or assumptions," Thomas wrote in his
But Wieners said police did not present their criminal case in
the civil hearing.
"The public needs to understand that our reports and evidence
have been reviewed by the district attorney and a grand jury."
Wieners declined comment on investigators' handling of the tape
or other details of his department's investigation of the case.
Thomas said police failed to interview the boys who made the
"I can't talk about it point-by-point, but the district
disagrees with many of the factual and legal conclusions made by
the hearing examiner," Horner said.
Thomas said, however, that Friendswood police investigator Eric
Price "corroborated that a bullet was found on the desk of Ms.
Gibson and that the bullet had hit papers on her desk and struck
another object in the classroom and landed back on top of Ms.
Gibson 's desk."
When Gibson reported a gunshot into her room, the junior high
school was locked down for four hours while police investigated.
Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: THU 11/14/02
School board votes to oust teacher / She allegedly fired into
By RUTH RENDON
FRIENDSWOOD - The school board ignored a state hearing
examiner's recommendation and terminated a 20-year teacher
accused of firing a gun into her classroom last year.
Norvella Susette Gibson , who taught language arts and reading,
still faces charges of carrying a weapon into a place where
possession of a firearm is prohibited. She faces two to 10 years
in prison if convicted. A trial date has not been set.
When reached at her home Wednesday morning, Gibson said she was
not aware of the board's decision but added that she was not
Gibson said she would appeal to the Texas commissioner of
The school board voted 6-0 Tuesday evening to fire Gibson, 54.
During a hearing last month before attorney Robert J. Thomas,
who was appointed as an independent examiner by the Texas
Education Agency, Thomas said the school district was wrong in
terminating Gibson .
The school board in May notified Gibson that her contract was
being terminated - not for allegedly shooting into her classroom
at Friendswood Junior High but on grounds that she made two
false reports to superiors about gunshots being fired during
Thomas recommended that the school district reinstate Gibson
because the district had failed to conduct its own investigation
and relied on "hearsay which was arbitrarily provided" by
No one was hurt the day of the shooting, and police did not
recover a gun from Gibson .
Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: THU 03/18/04
Teacher's weapon charge is dismissed /Friendswood case dropped
By KEVIN MORAN Chronicle Staff
FRIENDSWOOD - Galveston County prosecutors dropped a felony
weapon charge against former Friendswood teacher Norvella
Susette Gibson, who was accused of firing a shot while at
Friendswood Police Chief Robert Wieners said Wednesday the
charge was dropped in January.
Police arrested Gibson on a charge that she fired a bullet
through the wall of her own temporary classroom building about
two hours before classes began at Friendswood Junior High School
on Nov. 30, 2001.
Wieners said in a prepared statement that he learned Wednesday
from the Texas Board of Education that the charge had been
Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk said Wednesday
he did not know if anyone at Wieners' department had been
notified in January that prosecutors dropped the charge because
of insufficient evidence for conviction.
"Both the prosecutor and the lead detective on the case are out
of town, but I would certainly be surprised if the prosecutor
assigned to the case did not give notice to the detective of the
dismissal," Sistrunk said.
Wieners did not return calls Wednesday, so it was unclear why he
got word of the case's outcome from state education officials.
Department spokeswoman Karen Peterson said Wieners issued a news
release about the case's disposition Wednesday so the public
would know the outcome.
Gibson , 56, who was a 19-year Friendswood school teacher, could
not be reached for comment Wednesday. She has denied wrongdoing.
The incident resulted in a four-hour lockdown at the campus,
with many police officers and other emergency officials
involved. No one was injured when a bullet pierced the building
and damaged a piece of furniture, Wieners said.
A Galveston County grand jury indicted Gibson in March 2002 on a
third-degree felony charge of carrying a gun illegally on a
school campus, Wieners said. The charge carries a penalty of up
to 10 years in prison.
After an October 2002 hearing, a state board of education
examiner ruled that the Friendswood School District improperly
fired Gibson after the incident. The board first fired her on
grounds she made false reports to superiors about gunshots being
fired during school hours.
Among other reasons for the ruling that the dismissal was
improper, the examiner said the district failed to conduct its
own investigation of Gibson 's conduct and there was evidence
that some students might have fired a gun.
In November 2002, the school board rejected the examiner's
ruling and refused to reinstate Gibson.
(Rick's Note: What a pathetic story. I think the principal and
school board should be put on suspension for a while to see
how it feels to be wrongfully humiliated. What do you want to
bet she never got an apology either??)
Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: SUN 06/06/04
Page: 35 Metfront
Edition: 4 STAR
How to handle a
By RICK CASEY
IT'S EASY TO UNDERSTAND why Houston Independent School District
honchos get paid the big bucks.
They're so good at their jobs.
Take their handling of Robert Kimball , the former Sharpstown
High School assistant principal who blew the whistle on
falsified dropout data.
Rather than thanking him for pointing out a problem that needed
fixing, top administrators transferred him from job to job in
what could only be viewed as demotions.
When he went to the school board for relief, trustees accused
him of caring more about publicity than about children.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that they were right about
him being a publicity hound. With their reaction, they gave him
a great story to sell.
The story got better when a Texas Education Agency audit found
HISD had underreported 2,999 student dropouts in one year.
When the board added insults to the administration's injuries,
Kimball filed a whistle-blower suit.
That led to more stories that he was put in an office the size
of a closet in an elementary school with duties including
alphabetizing lunch cards and performing custodial work.
Finally the district got smart. It settled the suit, avoiding
more publicity and the possibly expensive anger of a jury.
But then district officials got stupid again. Citing a
confidentiality agreement, they refused to say how much they
were going to pay Kimball .
Friday, I called the district's press secretary, Terry
($149,001) Abbott, to ask if the district really intended not to
disclose the settlement amount.
"I can't comment about that one way or another," he said. "I'm
bound by the settlement."
He noted that the Houston Chronicle had filed a request for the
information under the state's Open Records Act and said the
district would honor the process prescribed by the law.
But the district's lawyers know the law, and, at his salary,
Abbott should also know it, too.
Section 552.022(a) of the Texas Government code gives a list of
examples of public information. Example 18 is "a settlement
agreement to which a governmental body is a party."
The next paragraph goes further. It forbids a judge from
approving such confidential settlements. Section 552.022 (b),
says: "A court in this state may not order a governmental body
or an officer for public information to withhold from public
inspection any category of public information described by
Subsection (a) or to not produce the category of public
information for inspection or duplication, unless the category
of information is expressly made confidential under other law."
The "settlement," said lawyers for both sides, had not yet been
submitted to a judge. I hope they have the good sense to point
out to the judge that he would be breaking the law if he entered
an agreed order that made the settlement amount confidential.
Judges tend to get angry with lawyers who lead them into bad
So why would HISD officials knowingly cite a patently illegal
"confidentiality agreement" in refusing to say how much they are
paying Kimball ?
I've pondered this question for many years. (HISD isn't the
first to try this trick.) The only answer I have been able to
come up with is stupidity and arrogance.
Stupidity because, had they released the amount, the story would
Now all the news outlets in town will get to tell the story of
the victorious whistle-blower at least one more time when HISD
is forced to release the amount of the settlement.
Arrogance because what they are communicating to the public is
that they should be able to keep us from knowing how much of our
money they spent to pay for their mistakes.
Date: TUE 06/08/04
Edition: 3 STAR
HISD paying $90,000 to settle whistle-blower suit
By JASON SPENCER
The Houston school district disclosed Monday that it is paying
$90,000 to settle the whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former
Sharpstown High School assistant principal Robert Kimball .
Both Kimball and the Houston Independent School District also
signed a contract agreeing not to discuss the details of the
settlement or the lawsuit's allegations. HISD spokesman Terry
Abbott said he could not disclose whose idea it was to prohibit
Kimball and the district from talking about the case.
The settlement requires Kimball to resign from the Houston
Independent School District. In return, HISD promised him a
neutral job reference.
Neither side admitted any wrongdoing. Kimball had sought as much
as $250,000. His annual salary was $59,000.
The settlement money will come from tax dollars in HISD's
general fund, Abbott said.
Kimball 's lawsuit, filed in April, accused HISD of punishing
him for accusing Sharpstown administrators of reporting false
student dropout numbers to the state for the 2001-2002 school
year. Sharpstown reported zero dropouts that year. A Texas
Education Agency investigation found 2,999 students with
questionable data and reclassified them as dropouts.
HISD pulled Kimball out of Sharpstown about a week after he
voiced his concerns, according to his lawsuit. The district
initially assigned Kimball to an administrative desk job. From
there, he spent time at two elementary schools this past school
year, handling tasks that Kimball considered inappropriate for
an assistant principal, such as alphabetizing lunch cards, the
A TEA-appointed monitor has reported good progress in HISD's
effort to clean up a dropout reporting system that had
(Rick's Note: Shouldn't there be a
story about some HISD Administrators who were fired, demoted,
or suspended? After all, my fellow good citizens, you
and I are the ones being punished. That's your money and mine
that are paying Mr. Kimball. Not that I begrudge him one
cent; he suffered preposterous treatment! It would
just be nice to see a study about the bullies who punish
others because they can't admit they are wrong getting their
just due. And wouldn't it be fun to see some judge
suggest the administrators and board members chalk up some of
that 90 Thou??
This story and the previous one about Susette Gibson make
school administrators look foolish. What are these people
thinking? And the school boards don't come out looking
very good either. Why is it so difficult to admit a
mistake? I wonder if anyone bothered apologizing to Mr.
Kimball in addition to handing him our money?)
SPECIAL FEATURE THREE
June 22, 2004, 11:21PM
Gypsies can sue IBM over
GENEVA -- A Swiss court has cleared the way for Gypsies to sue
IBM over published allegations that the computer company's
punch-card machines helped the Nazis commit mass murder more
efficiently, the plaintiffs' lawyer said Tuesday.
The Geneva appeals court disagreed with a lower court that
refused to hear the case last year on grounds it lacked
jurisdiction, said the Gypsies' lawyer, Henri-Philippe Sambuc.
A Gypsy group filed the lawsuit in Geneva because IBM's wartime
European headquarters was in the city. It claims the office was
IBM's hub for trade with the Nazis.
"IBM's complicity through material or intellectual assistance to
the criminal acts of the Nazis during World War II via its
Geneva office cannot be ruled out," said the appeals court
ruling. It cited "a significant body of evidence indicating that
the Geneva office could have been aware that it was assisting
In its June 2003 ruling, the lower court said IBM only had an
"antenna" in the Swiss city. City archives, however, show that
in 1936 IBM opened an office under the name "International
Business Machines Corporation New York, European Headquarters."
No immediate reaction to the ruling was available from IBM's
Geneva lawyers, who have previously referred requests for
comment to the company's headquarters in Armonk, N.Y. Company
officials there did not immediately return calls.
IBM has consistently denied it was in any way responsible for
the way its machines were used in the Holocaust.
The company has said its German subsidiary, Deutsche Hollerith
Maschinen GmbH -- or Dehomag -- was taken over by the Nazis
before World War II, and it had no control over operations there
or how Nazis used IBM machines.
Sambuc maintains that the company's Geneva office continued to
coordinate Europe-wide trade with the Nazis, acting on clear
instructions from world headquarters in New York.
The group represented by Sambuc -- Gypsy International
Recognition and Compensation Action -- sued IBM for "moral
reparation" and $20,000 each in damages on behalf of four
Gypsies from Germany and France and one Polish-born Swedish
Gypsy. All five plaintiffs were orphaned in the Holocaust.
(Rick's Note: I do not for a
moment hesitate to extend sympathy for the Gypsies who
suffered at the evil hands of the Nazis as well as the Jews
and all the other victims of this horrible regime. However if
I recall correctly, wasn't it the Nazis who were guilty of the
crime? Why sue the makers of
an inanimate object that is not even remotely capable of
directly injuring a human being?
Did you know that SSQQ has a complete
RESPONSIBILITY? If you are curious to read about
the McDonalds Hot Coffee case, the Killer Whale Story, and
Teacher’s Aide Nabbed in Marshmallow Bust
Miami - A teacher’s aide who forgot to put away her marshmallows
and hot chocolate at Yellowstone National Park last year was
taken from her cruise ship cabin in handcuffs and hauled before
a judge Friday, accused of failing to pay the year-old fine.
Hope Clarke, 32, crying and in leg shackles, told the judge that
she had been required to pay the $50 fine before she could leave
Yellowstone, which has strict rules about food storage to
prevent wildlife from eating human food. Customs agents found a
warrant claiming Clarke had not paid her fine.
In a related story there is no word the
nationwide search for the name unknown Houston-based dance
teacher who escaped a park ranger manhunt for the same crime
earlier in the day. The only clue was a mysterious "SSQQ
Schedule" found at the scene of the crime.
(Rick's Note: if something
strange happens at my wedding, now you know what happened.
Please don't turn me in!)
RETURN TO HEADLINES
RETURN TO SPECIAL
WORTH THREE MILLION DOLLARS
Donald W. Doyle Jr., chairman and
CEO of Blanchard, said although two coins have sold for higher
prices in the bidding-war atmosphere of an auction, the $3
million sale of the 1913 Liberty Head "V" nickel is the largest
transaction ever by a retail brokerage firm to a buyer.
"Only five 1913 Liberty Head nickels are known to exist, and of
them, only three are in private hands and potentially available
for acquisition," Doyle said. "For Blanchard to have had a part
in its sale is an exceptional honor."
The other two 1913 Liberty Head nickels are in museum
collections. One is in the National Numismatic Collection of the
Smithsonian's Museum of American History, while the other is in
the American Numismatic Association's National Money Museum in
Colorado Springs, CO.
"This coin is to numismatists what the Mona Lisa is to the art
world," said Bruce L. Smith, one of the Senior Account
Executives at Blanchard who negotiated the nickel's sale.
One side of the coin features the Liberty Head and the 1913
date, while the reverse has the "V." The only nickels with this
design and date, they are believed to have been struck
surreptitiously by a U.S. Mint employee in 1913. They did not
surface publicly until 1919 and were in the possession of a
former Mint official. However, the intrigue surrounding the
nickel has been fueled by a storied past.
Rich History: King Farouk, Traffic Jams, Basketball and
The $3 million nickel sold by Blanchard - named the Olsen
Specimen for a previous owner - has the richest history of the
five coins. Coin collecting is known as the Hobby of Kings, and
this nickel was actually once owned by a royal, King Farouk of
Egypt, an avid collector of coins and other fineries.
The Liberty Head nickel captured the attention of Texas
millionaire B. Max Mehl, who more than anyone else is
responsible for making the nickel famous. Mehl launched a
million-dollar advertising campaign during the Depression,
stirring the general public's interest by offering top dollar to
anyone who found one of the prized nickels. People envisioned
becoming rich and began combing through their change to find the
Streetcar conductors caused traffic jams as they stopped to
examine the coins used for fare by riders in hopes of finding a
sought-after 1913 Liberty Head nickel. While Mehl never owned
one, he popularized coin collecting as a hobby and stimulated
sales of his coin-collecting book, which went through 30
Mehl was not alone in his passionate pursuit. The nickel's lure
spans generations. Dr. Jerry Buss, owner of the Los Angeles
Lakers professional basketball team, was another previous owner.
The Olsen Specimen grabbed Hollywood's attention as well. It
starred in a 1974 episode of the television crime drama "Hawaii
Five-O." The episode, titled "The $100,000 Nickel," was the
story of a thief who teamed up with a con artist to steal the
famous coin. They used a slight-of-hand trick to swap the
original coin for a carefully crafted fake at a coin convention.
The crime duo couldn't elude Steve McGarrett, the head of an
elite crime investigation unit. He was able to recover the
nickel, arrest the thieves and put the Olsen Specimen back into
the owner's hands and the public's conscious.
Obviously, the nickel surpassed the $100,000 price tag used in
the television series. Since 1974, the Olsen Specimen's value
has increased 3,000%, making it a lucrative investment and
treasured piece of American history.
Sale of "Amazingly Beautiful" Coin Took Three Years
A 1913 Liberty Head nickel sold for $1 million in 1993, another
sold for $1.5 million in 1996, and a third sold for $1.85
million in 2001. It is entirely possible that this nickel will
reach the $5 million mark as the popularity of rare coins
continues to grow, Smith said.
"In fact, investments in rare coins have outpaced the growth in
gold bullion," he said.
Under terms of the sale, neither the new owner nor the previous
owner of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel can be identified because
of privacy and security concerns, Blanchard officials said.
Smith worked for three years to bring the deal to fruition
and two years to place the coin.
"Anyone involved with the industry is aware of the coin, and I
had been following its story for some time. About three years
ago, a client expressed some interest in seeing whether the
Liberty Head might be available to purchase so I began to watch
the nickel closely," he said.
Eventually, two of his investor clients asked for information on
the coin, and one ultimately was the purchaser.
Smith described the new owner as a collector and astute investor
who owns a number of other significant coins. Smith said the new
owner sold "a handful of other coins" at attractive prices to
raise the funds to acquire the 1913 Liberty Head nickel, which
is now the star of his collection.
"Just being part of something this important is fantastic,"
He and the new owner also share many "similar goals and
aspirations in our life" in addition to finance, including
mission work and church-related activities. "It is especially
meaningful for me to place this coin in his hands," Smith said.
Plus, Smith has had a thrill that most coin collectors only
dream of: He may not own it, but he has held one of the most
famous coins in the world.
"The coin is amazingly beautiful," Smith said. "It's just in
Interestingly, when Smith began his quiet watch on the 1913
Liberty Head nickels, it was believed that only four of the five
coins were still in existence. It was thought that the fifth
coin had been lost in a 1962 automobile accident that killed its
owner, a coin dealer.
But last year, when the American Numismatic Association (ANA)
was planning a display of the four nickels that could be
located, a million-dollar reward was offered to anyone who could
produce the fifth nickel, regardless of its condition. The
deceased dealer's family responded, bringing a coin that an
expert previously had determined was a fake. Much to the
family's surprise, six experts at the ANA conference examined
the coin and found it to be the real thing.
As a result, all five of the 1913 Liberty Head coins were shown
together at the 2003 ANA Convention in Baltimore, MD, for the
first time since their debut at the 1920 ANA Convention and
probably the last.
Origin Shrouded in Mystery
The coin is so valuable not only because five exist, but also
because its origins are surrounded in mystery.
The five nickels are believed to have been produced at the
Philadelphia Mint in early 1913 just before the nickel design
was about to change from the Liberty Head, produced from 1883 to
1912, to the Indian Head that was minted from 1913 to 1938.
Because these coins were struck before the official adoption of
the Indian Head design, producing the five Liberty Head coins
with a 1913 date was not illegal even though no other Liberty
nickels with that date were ever produced.
Speculation is that an employee of the Philadelphia Mint struck
the five 1913 Liberty Head nickels in January or February of
that year. Although not illegal, the production was probably
unscrupulous. Samuel W. Brown, a numismatist and an assistant
curator of one of the collections in the Philadelphia Mint,
definitely was involved, and he eventually produced the nickels.
The collector world first learned of the nickels existence in
1919 when Brown advertised in the Numismatist, the coin
association's magazine, offering to buy the rare Liberty Head
nickels. By then, he was no longer a Mint employee.
Later, Brown made it known that he had five of the coins and
took them to the 1920 ANA convention, which was the first time
anyone had seen them.
Some historians speculate that Brown may have waited until 1919
to disclose the coins' existence because he wanted to make sure
the person who actually struck the coins had died. Others
observe that 1920 was the year that the seven-year statute of
limitations would have expired for prosecution of anyone
removing government property from the Mint. As is the case with
so much of the nickel's history, the real story will probably
never be known.
May 20. 2004
nickel fetches $3 million
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A 1913 Liberty Head nickel that was minted
under mysterious circumstances, owned by royalty and celebrated
in an episode of TV's Hawaii Five-O was sold Thursday for $3
"Many argue this is the most important coin in our history,"
said Bruce Smith of Blanchard and Co., which brokered the sale.
"I think it's the most beautiful." Neither the buyer, described
as both a collector and investor, nor the seller was identified.
At least two other coins have sold for more, both at auction. In
1999, an 1804 silver dollar sold for $4.14 million. Two years
ago, a 1933 $20 gold piece went for $7.59 million.
The $3-million coin is one of only five Liberty Head nickels
minted in 1913. The design had been discontinued in 1912 and the
mint was switching over to the Indian Head nickel.
The U.S. Mint sometimes ran off coins as tests and the coins may
have been struck that way, Smith said. They surfaced in 1920 in
the possession of Samuel Brown, a former mint employee, and have
soared in value ever since.
"The innocent view is that it was the test of a handful of
coins," Smith said.
"The less innocent view is that Samuel Brown knew he would have
a valuable investment down the road."
During the Depression, Texas millionaire B. Max Mehl sparked
dreams of wealth by offering a $1,000 reward for one of the 1913
Liberty Heads. The offer was said to have regularly caused
traffic jams as streetcar conductors took time to examine the
nickels passengers paid as fare.
One of the nickels sold for $1 million in 1993, another went for
$1.5 million in 1996 and a third fetched $1.85 million in 2001.
The coin sold by Blanchard is considered the second-best in
quality but the one with the most colorful history.
Called the Olsen Specimen for a previous owner, it once belonged
to King Farouk of Egypt, an avid coin collector. It was also
owned by Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, and was the
subject of a 1973 episode of Hawaii Five-O, titled The $100,000
RETURN TO HEADLINES
RETURN TO SPECIAL
SPECIAL FEATURE SIX
guessed Halle Berry (seen earlier as Catwoman in her
upcoming picture), you guessed right.
Despite being one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood,
Berry remains unlucky in love. Her first marriage to
baseball star David Justice ended badly in 1996 with hints
of alleged physical abuse. During the divorce proceedings,
Berry requested a restraining order, saying that Justice was
Early on in her career she had a romance with a fellow actor
whom she refuses to name. Apparently this man her so
severely she lost most of the hearing in her right ear.
For all those girls who think that fame, money, and beauty
will bring you happiness…here is just another example that
life isn’t always what it seems.
Recently Ms. Berry
has not been too thrilled with Husband Number Two, Singer
Eric Benet. For starters, Mr. Benet is an admitted sex
addict who is said to have cheated on his wife repeatedly.
After checking into a clinic to be treated for his
addiction, apparently the treatment failed. Add to
that a singing career where no one has ever heard a thing he
has actually sung. At this point it seems likely he will
only be remembered for his other talent.
Mr. Benet may not be able to sing, but he can definitely
whine. After cheating on his wife more than once and
publicly humiliating her, Ms. Berry decided she had had
enough and headed for divorce court. But Mr. Benet has
decided he isn't through with his meal ticket just yet.
After discovering he can't sing nor make any serious money
at his real talent, Benet has decided to demand that
his Oscar-winning actress to pay spousal support, foot his
legal bills, and apparently is gearing up to challenge the
couple's prenuptial agreement.
In a June 1 Los Angeles Superior Court filing,
singer/admitted sex addict Eric Benet, 33, put the arm of
the law on the 35-year-old Berry. As it stands,
basically he cheated on her countless times AND now despite
a legal agreement to the contrary wants to be supported.
Here is hoping that Ms. Berry's prenup is bulletproof.
As for Benet, he is our current favorite to win the coveted
"Most Pathetic Man-Serpent of the Year" award.
As for Ms. Berry, what rock does she look under to find
these reptiles? She has recently been quoted as
saying, "I will never marry again."
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 autochthonous:
The plant was autochthonous to the region.
The Indians were autochthonous to this valley.