December 2006
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The SSQQ Newsletter
Written and Edited by Rick Archer
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This is the December 2006 issue of the SSQQ Newsletter.

This issue is a bit late. Classes started on Sunday, November 26.  Please forgive.  However, I hope you will the wait was worth it.  This is definitely the best Newsletter in quite a while.  There are all sorts of interesting stories to check out starting with the announcement of our upcoming Hawaii Cruise in late May 2007.

Here are the Chapters in this month's Newsletter:

  10. POT FARM



Saturday, May 26th to Saturday, June 2nd

Come experience the wonders of Hawaii on our next SSQQ cruise vacation.  We sail on the Memorial Day weekend  aboard The Pride of America, one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ships.

Hawaii is expensive. There is no way around that. Still, this trip is well within reach. This is your chance to see one of the most beautiful places in the entire world for as little as $1,500 per person ($750 air fare, $750 inside cabin).

Hawaii is the Jewel of the Pacific Ocean.   There is so much to see that you will go crazy having to choose one exotic destination over another.

Will it be a trip to explore a lush rain forest or an expedition to witness breathtaking waterfalls?
Or will it be a chance to view orchid-scented botanical gardens or visit one of the many stunning beaches?
Will you hike atop the lunar landscape of Hawaii’s lava fields or will you visit Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific?

These will be tough decisions, but whatever you choose, you can't miss.  This is a cruise trip you do not want to miss.

Contact Marla Archer at 713 862-4428 or e-mail with any further questions.



New England is half-finished and Rhapsody Reloaded is on the drawing board. 

Please forgive, I've been swamped.  Both sets of pictures will be in the January Newsletter, I promise.



-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Monday, November 27, 2006 9:57 AM
To: rick archer
Subject: US OPEN

Hey Rick,   This past year Valerie Menard (my partner) and I have been practicing, traveling and competing all over the US. Our goal was to go to the US OPEN, one of the biggest events that accomplished competitors go to try and become a part of dance history.

This past weekend at Anaheim, California, there were 28 couples from all over the US in the CLASSIC DIVISION program. After the preliminaries, only 12 couples were brought back.  Valerie and I were one of the 12!!   We made the US OPEN finals.

Historically there have been only 2 other men from Houston to ever make the US OPEN finals....Mario Robau Jr. and David Appel.  That number now stands at 3.

We left early Sunday morning, so we are not sure where we ranked among the elite dancers of the US, but making finals and representing Houston was exciting in it's own right.

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. I know I sure did!

Bryan Spivey

Bryan Spivey and fiancée Lisa Palmer

Editor's Note:  Bryan is pretty modest, so let me make clear just how big Bryan's accomplishment was.

After Bryan's phenomenal performance, a lady who was also in this competition came up to Bryan and asked, "How much training in rhythmic ballet have you received?  I have never seen anyone with such a sense of timing like yours!"

Bryan smiled at the compliment and answered, "My dance training was mostly in football and basketball."

Bryan is a natural.  He never danced in his life till he came to SSQQ.  In fact, he didn't even come to the studio for lessons! 

Bryan came to SSQQ in 2000.  At that time SSQQ had serious problems with overcrowding. We had just initiated our Hall Monitor positions and Bryan thought he could pick up a couple extra dollars while he went to college.

Bryan wasn't a bad Hall Monitor, but he wasn't a very good one either. He was far more interested in dancing than monitoring. He would monitor for the first fifteen minutes, then find a dance class to volunteer in.

So imagine how frustrated I was the day I discovered Bryan had taught one of the Swing classes!  One of the teachers didn't show up. Bryan volunteered to fill in.  When I found out, I threw a fit. My words were something like, "Who on earth let a HALL MONITOR teach one of our classes!!!"

I wasn't mad at Bryan.  In fact, I was glad he offered to help.   I just didn't think he was qualified to teach.  But when I learned the students had really enjoyed Bryan as a teacher, I calmed down and gave it some more thought.
What made Bryan's situation so unique is that he never bothered taking any classes.  He didn't need to.  Bryan never took a complete ssqq class in his life that I knew of.  He just pick things up in bits and pieces and danced for the fun it.
Bryan acquired dance material so quickly that it wasn't necessary. Watching him dance one night at Swing Practice, I realized that not only was Bryan a natural dancer, he had a prodigious talent. Bryan's rhythm and ability to move gracefully far surpassed anyone I had ever seen walk through the studio doors.  He was a better dancer than anyone I knew and he had gotten to this point without any training at all.  I was stunned.  How did he do it?

Obviously Bryan was in the wrong role. He needed to be a Swing teacher. I switched him to part-time Hall Monitor and part-time Swing assistant in February 2002. He became a co-teacher on Mondays by August of the same year.

Bryan developed an interest in competition dancing.  Out of the blue, he won the 2003 Strictly Swing Champion with Michelle Wann (July 2003). 

The following year he became a Texas State Champion along with his fiancée Lisa Palmer.

And now to his resume Bryan has added this Top 12 finish in the toughest dance competition in the entire country.  The people in this competition are among the top professionals in the country.  The list reads like a Who's Who of West Coast Swing dancing.  And now Bryan has their respect. 

Bryan Spivey should now be considered one of the top ten male WCS dancers in the country.  That is quite an achievement. 

Bryan intends to take a little time off from dancing.  In April 2007, Bryan will marry his long-time sweetheart Lisa Palmer (who just happens to be quite a dancer in her own right).  Where Bryan goes from there is up to him.  

In the meantime, Bryan deserves all the praise imaginable.  From Hall Monitor to Top Ten Dancer.  That is quite a climb!


Yes, the Halloween Pictures are now ready. The 2006 Halloween Party had over 300 guests. This year Gary Richardson was our photographer. (Gary is pictured at right with his lovely wife Betty). Gary filled in at the last moment when our regular photographer decided not to do it this year. We were very fortunate for his help!


I would have to say the costume that got the biggest laugh belonged to Bob and Jan Milz who came as the Cleaver Family.   As usual, a picture is worth a thousand words.  I don't know who the Egyptian and the Pirate lady, but I loved their costumes.

The identity of She-Banshee will remain anonymous, but he-she-it is married to the pretty lady in the same picture.  Nick Mullet and Sheila are handsome indeed in their Renaissance Costumes. Special kudos to Sheila for making them herself!

In the next row you have Jack Benard and Jackie Chang from the land of the Arabian Nights.  Linda Cook was very creative in her Piñata costume.  No one knows who the Little Shop of Horrors lady was, but we sure liked her costume!



Remember – if you miss the first week of class, you can always start in the second week. The Second Week Review will catch you up.

Special classes for DECEMBER include:

  1. BEGINNING SWING/JITTERBUG on Sundays at 4:30 pm with Jack Benard.   Jack Benard begins a three-month Swing program on Sundays at 4:30.  This way a student can take Swing classes on Sundays at 4:30, then stay for their Ballroom class at 7 pm. 
  2. SUPER GHOST TOWN 7 - Scott and Cher
    In response to the request for Parallel Ghost Towns, we now will offer the same level on Sundays and Fridays. If you miss one day, you can make it up on the other. In addition Scott is likely to throw in a bonus pattern as well!
  3. At 7 pm on Sundays, Dakota completes his FOUR-MONTH TANGO class with SUPER-ADVANCED TANGO.  This class will advance one level each month through December.  This class was incredibly popular in September with 70 people sign up for it!   The energy is phenomenal. 
  4. BEGINNING BALLROOM on Sundays at 7 will cover this month. TANGO, SWING and CHA CHA. Marla Archer will be the teacher.
  5. INTERMEDIATE BALLROOM on Sundays at 7 will cover  FOXTROT, WALTZ, AND RUMBA. Jack Benard will be the teacher.
  6. ADVANCED BALLROOM class will cover ADVANCED TANGO and CHA CHA patterns. Jill Banta will be the teacher. As we have previously reported, we are using the Fall classes at SSQQ to prepare for Dakota’s ACCELERATED BALLROOM program, which makes its debut in January 2007.  You can read more about this at
  1. Quick reminder that we will no longer be teaching SLOW DANCE as a regular four-week group class.  That said, there are special occasions like the First Dance at a wedding, a fancy New Years Eve party, a romantic standard at the Captain's Reception on a cruise, or a sultry torch song at a nightclub where the ability to Slow Dance would sure come in handy.  If you are getting married or would simply like to learn to Slow Dance, Marla Archer can teach you SLOW DANCE, WALTZ, or FOXTROT in a private lesson.  Contact her at   

    Marla teaches an average of 5 private lessons a week to couples who need to learn how to Slow Dance, Foxtrot, or Waltz at their Wedding Reception. If you know someone who needs to prepare for this important moment, read Marla’s story about her Wedding Dance experiences, please visit:
  2. Bryan and Lisa’s MARTIAN WHIP has moved to Mondays.  This turned out to be a very popular move as the class has grown to 40 people.  Not only did they love the class, Monday Night Whip Practice became a serious rocking event.  The class is growing so fast that we will be moving it to Room One in November. If you are an advanced Whip and West Coast Swing dancer, this is the place to be on Mondays!  By the way, Bryan recently finished in the Top 12 of the National West Coast Swing Championships.  In other words, Bryan is now one of the top 12 male dancers in the country.  Quite an accomplishment!
  3. Tuesday Salsa is phenomenal.  Each Tuesday, there is a Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Salsa class that average 80 to 100 people in each class.  In particular, Steve & Danielle conduct their elite Advanced Salsa class each Tuesday.  The Tuesday Salsa Practice Night hosted by Linda Cook is smokin’. 
  4. SCOTT AND CHER'S DEATH VALLEY 5 IN DECEMBER. As a Christmas present, we have decided to bring back this amazing series of the most advanced Western Swing patterns taught by our expert, Scott Ladell.  Death Valley is a series of highly sophisticated Western Swing patterns. It is tougher than Ghost Town

    Scott is a leader on the Western Competition Dance Scene. He will deliver the goods whether you are an Advanced Social Dancer or someone ready to challenge the big dogs on the competition stage. Either way, Scott is your man!
  5. Linda teaches GHOST TOWN 3 in December. Call it “Ghost Town Lite” or “Training Wheels Ghost Town” since this class is only slightly harder than our Advanced Western Swing classes.
  6. Martian Technique resurfaced on Thursdays in September, and now we continue this class in December.  Martian Technique is an advanced program for the graduates of our Basic Beginner thru Lunar program.  It moves faster than Lunar Whip, but nowhere near as fast as Martian Whip.  It is a place where the classes are small and we can concentrate on polishing your skills while adding new material.  This month Dakota teaches his WEST COAST SWING SYNCOPATIONS AND TIMING class on Thursdays!
  7. Rick and Cher will teach ADVANCED WESTERN WALTZ on Friday. Western Waltz is considered the "Romantic" Western dance. The stakes being what they are, no sensible man should ignore this important dance!  The moves are quite graceful and the music is very pretty.
  8. At the request of many Salsa students, Bjorn and Rebeca Bangstein have moved their Saturday Salsa Explosion on Saturdays to 2:00 pm. This has turned out to be a great move.  Not only did they have 40 students in their class, they all had plenty of room to dance!  This move allowed students to take both the Explosion class and the 4:30 Advanced Salsa class back to back.
  9. Rhythm and Blues Twostep is taught on Saturdays at 4:30 pm by Willie Bushnell and Willie GreenAlso known as "Swingout", Rhythm and Blues Twostep is a popular dance used in African-American nightclubs. Taught by Willie Bushnell, R&B Twosteppin' is a partner dance similar to Zydeco. The man and woman first dance in closed position, then the man "swings her out".


The Red and White Happy Holidays Salsa Dance!!
Saturday, December 9th
9:15 pm - 11:30 pm,  $7 person

Salsa Music in Room 1

(Wear Red and White or Stay outta Sight!)


SLOW DANCING! - Jill (cpls only)

9:00 PM - 12 Midnight   $7 PERSON

Christmas Designs or colors like Red and Green would be nice, but if you are in a Bah Humbug mood, wear whatever you like.


Much of the Dance Music will have a Christmas Twist to it.  A Twostep to George Strait's MERRY CHRISTMAS STRAIT TO YOU or a Swing to FROSTY THE SNOWMAN is guaranteed to put you in a Christmas Mood.  Better watch or we will have you rocking around the Christmas Tree!



Sunday, December 31st
9:00 pm - 1:00 am,  $20 per person

Semi-Formal Dress :
Coat & Tie for Men,
Dress or Dress Suit for Ladies

Music :
Big Band Swing, Ballroom Waltz, Tango, Cha Cha, and Foxtrot in Room One
Western and Whip in Room Four

Appetizers plus complimentary soft drinks, wine and beer.
Champagne, Noise Makers, and Silly Hats at Midnight

The SSQQ New Year's Party has traditionally attracted 200 people.
There is drinking, but never to excess.
The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.
SSQQ is cheerful, safe, comfortable and smoke-free.

What better way to welcome in the New Year than with Dancing!!




Twice in my life, Dancing has helped rescue me from a serious personal crisis.

In 1986, I used Whip Dancing to recover from a deep depression brought on by a divorce. It is an interesting story.  You can find it in Stories: 201 Nights

In many ways though, this 1974 saga is even more remarkable because I started my climb from a much tougher place.  This story explains how learning to Freestyle Dancing helped me climb back from the deepest hole of my entire life.

The story follows the events of a nine month period of my life, some of which you might find were pretty unusual.  Due the discovery of an odd little book, one day I decided I wanted to learn to dance. I had never danced in my life, so I was surprised at how strong the desire was. Unfortunately, after one lesson, I realized I was absolutely terrible. This wasn't going to be as easy as I hoped. Although I was discouraged, I decided to continue. Even though learning to dance was always an uphill struggle, I practiced with a relentlessness that I didn't completely understand.

I often wondered why I took this project so seriously. I certainly never imagined that pursuing a skill like freestyle would accomplish the miracle of resurrecting my shattered confidence. Nor did I have any idea that dancing would help pull me out of my terrible downward spiral.

Despite all the setbacks I encountered, I would not give up. I got on the path for no better reason than it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Then I discovered I felt better about myself when I practiced my dancing. That is why I stayed with it.


8. THE SSQQ HALLOWEEN LOGIC PUZZLE: The Cowboys-Texans Football Game Logic Puzzle

Guess what?  This month's football puzzle was contributed by Ann Faget, our current champion!

Last month's puzzle didn't really count because we published the same one just a year earlier.  So I gave the Usual Suspects the month off since they all solved it last year.

The only new winner from last month was Julie Amazing Zumwalt.  Congratulations!


9. slow dance and romance

The other day I was thinking to myself, "Gee, Rick, things haven't been quite as busy this year in the SSQQ Romance Department." 

That thought frustrated me because I started the year off by reading a 9-Chapter Story called Matchmaker on the history of SSQQ's role in creating romances.  So I was feeling sorry for myself. Lotta good that story did!

However I had just attended the wedding of my two friends Carol Gafford and Rick Mullet. I took some great pictures, so I decided to write the story about their event.

After I finished, I updated some of the other stories that had taken place.  Suddenly I was overwhelmed... we have had 13 weddings and 10 engagements this year!   Just one more and we hit our average of 24 a year.  So I am asking you all to please consider getting married or engaged before the year is out!   C'mon, do it as a favor to me! 

This month I added stories and pictures about the Weddings of:
Carol Gafford and Rick Mullet
Larry Thomas and Pam Cochran
John Otts and Cynthia Hall
Curtis Goode and Kathy Heller

and the Engagements of:
Phil Liggett and May Massaad
Mike Shannon and Gina Garza
Tracy Kirkland and Gary Schweinle

It is good to know that good SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic is still cooking.  Best wishes to all!

2006 Slow Dance and Romance

Rick and Carol's First Dance



This is the true story of a multi-million dollar Marijuana Farm that was built in a cave underneath a house in Tennessee.  And guess what?  They got caught.  Of course you will be curious how they got caught.   The pictures are awesome and the story itself is very interesting.  I give the story a Must-Read status.

-----Original Message-----
From: Malcolm C
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 7:34 AM
Subject: Pot Farm

Hey Rick...  Outstanding Web Page... Thanks so much for all the work on 'Pot Farm'. Well done, awesome, & interesting!!!

Thanks again,  Mal C

On Nov 30, 2006, at 6:02 AM, Rick Archer wrote:

How did you find that page? I was going to announce it today in the new Newsletter and you beat me to it.

Thanks for the compliment. I hope it didn’t show I was rooting for the crooks…. ;-)


-----Original Message-----
From: Malcolm C
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 1:57 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Pot Farm

Hi Rick...

I did a search in "Dogpile" for it... A friend had sent it to me in an email previously (how to do that is over my head), & I had saved it as a "Draft", but I had lost it accidentally when I was installing an updated email program...

I use it periodically when I minister at a Boy's Prison camp in a "Keynote" presentation (they love it)... Although I'm a pastor now, I'm a retired Robbery-Homicide Detective, & it is a great piece to share with the kids as an object lesson...

Re the "rooting for the crooks", yeh, it kinda came across that way initially, but I thought your analogies were really good, & at least from my point of view, you brought it back "on track" again very nicely...

Anyhow, the kids really appreciate it, as do I (only now I can give you credit when I share it), & I thank you once again for all the effort you put into it...

Sincerely, respectfully, & with much gratitude,  mal



As always, I am in great debt to my friend Gary Richardson.

When I finally post the pictures from the Rhapsody Reloaded Cruise that we took last August, you will amazed at the job Gary did.  As our official Cruise Photographer, Gary took hundreds and hundreds of pictures.  He put together a CD of the trip that included over 1300 pictures!   I cannot imagine how much time he had to put into that effort.  We are much in his debt.

At the 2006 Halloween Party, Gary filled in for our regular photographer when he decided not to do the party at the last minute.  I was up a creek without a paddle until Gary said he would take the pictures.  Mind you, this is Gary's favorite dance of the year.  He would far rather be dancing, believe me.  But he was kind enough to help me out and as a result, we have 200 great pictures from this popular event.

The other day Gary brought me several hundred new country-western songs to add to our jukebox list.  He loves western music and likes to collect the new albums when they come out.  His generosity will be appreciated not just by me, but by our Practice Night dancers as well.

That Pot Farm story listed above was started when Gary sent me the pictures.  He contributes to the studio in so many different ways. 

Gary and betty richardson

Gary runs a computer store known as TFW Computers. Not only does he sell computers that he builds himself, he provides the best service for computer problems of any person in Houston.

People in the dance community have known about Gary's excellence for years.  He sells several computers a month to people from SSQQ.  Recently he has sold computers to Robert Goins, Cher Longoria, Rachel Koenig, Dakota Wilhelm, Don Schmidt, and Nancy Edelman.  I am saying this for a reason.  Gary is so good to me that I would like to return the favor any way I can.

If you are shopping for a computer this Christmas, go see Gary.  He will take wonderful care of you.  You have my word on it.

For more information,

Phone : 713- 461- 8660
Email :

Address :
2551 North Gessner
2 miles north of I-10



As surely you know, recently former football star Emmitt Smith and his professional dance partner Cheryl Burke were crowned the winners of this weekly dance show.  They best the team of Mario Lopez and his partner, professional dancer Karina Smirnoff.

This result was just as stupid as it could possibly be.  I had no complaints with the dancing of Emmitt Smith. I enjoyed watching him immensely.   But for his dancing to be better than that of Mario Lopez?  C'mon now.  What a joke!

Mario Lopez was the most gifted male dancer I have seen on the show. He has a phenomenal talent for dance.  If he were to train and compete against professionals, I imagine he would do quite well.  So let's just call the result what it was: a popularity contest. 

The decision was not based on dancing, but on Emmitt Smith's fame as a professional athlete.

A similar thing happened in the First season of the show.  In June 2005, hotsy totsy Kelly Monaco and her partner Alec Mazo scored a narrow victory over John O'Hurley and his partner Charlotte Jørgensen.  Kelly and Alec managed to get two miracle 10s in their final performance despite the fact that she nearly fell down twice in the routine.  The result was a complete farce. 

I wrote about it in the newsletter at the time.

I completely skipped the Second season because I could not stand how the outcome had been rigged in the First Season.

But one night in October 2006, my wife was watching an episode of Season Three when I walked in, so I decided to watch a while.  I was impressed.  First the caliber of the celebrities had clearly risen from D-List unknowns in Season One to people I had actually heard of in Season Three.  Second, the majority of these people were very good dancers.  They were obviously taking their dancing seriously!  So Marla and I watched practically every week after that.

I skipped the final show because I was certain Emmitt Smith was going to win and I knew it would make me angry.  I am not the only one who thought this way. I grabbed the following quote of the Internet. I took me about 20 seconds to find someone who agreed with me:



Besides Emmitt's popularity, the other reason I was certain Emmitt would win is because America loves the Underdog.  Mario lost because he was too good!  Every Bubba and Yahoo in America resented this gifted, pretty boy dancer and decided to teach him a lesson. 

You know how I guessed?  The same thing happened to me once.   Sharon Crawford (Shaw) and I were the victims of the exact same phenomenon back in 1988. 

If you want to read a funny story, visit



Last month I published a story about an ordeal I went through in court of Judge Kathy Han regarding a mistaken ticket I received for trash that wasn't mine.  Here is what I wrote in the November Newsletter:

MY DAY IN COURT  On Thursday, October 12, I had the opportunity to spend four hours in Municipal Court observing how justice is handled here in Houston, Texas.

I was there to dispute a ticket I had received for placing heavy trash in front of my house prior to pickup time.  I thought this ticket had been given to me in error so I intended to have my say in court.  Little did I know I would have to wait 4 hours! 

They say you can't fight City Hall. 

Throughout the day I was given several very interesting lessons on the possible origins of this saying. 

The reason this story is interesting is that I discovered the hard way they play dirty in trash court.  There is a fascinating shakedown game under foot.  You will just have to read the story to understand what I am talking about.

I have written many stories over the years, but this particular story made more people mad than I ever would have imagined.  I received several emails commenting on the runaround I wrote about.  I will share with you the most interesting one.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brian N
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 5:30 PM
Subject: Kathy Han

Email I sent to Judge Kathy Han:

Judge Han, you should be embarrassed if the story titled 'My Day in Court' is true. Your position as a judge is designed to benefit society, but in actuality it seems to be a cancer. Although you failed to extend the same courtesy to Rick Archer, I will give you the opportunity to explain your side of the story and how Rick Archer's treatment in your courtroom was not a mere "shakedown" as he put it. If it was a shakedown, you have no right, absolutely none, to preside on behalf of the people.

Brian N

From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 5:54 PM
To: Brian N
Subject: RE: Kathy Han


I will be curious to see if she responds.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brian N
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 9:12 AM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Kathy Han

I doubt she will respond. Regardless, I believe you are correct; she is concerned about her reputation. Perhaps a few more scathing emails from others may be cause for change. I applaud you for taking the time to document your experience, despite the immateriality of the "alleged" crime.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 1:13 PM
To: Brian N
Subject: RE: Kathy Han

I am one of those people who firmly believe that bullies will walk on people unless they think someone is watching.

That is why I am grateful for the freedom our media is given here in America.



Grab your partner and waltz to healthier heart
A study finds that dance is an effective and fun way to help cardiac patients

Associated Press
Nov. 13, 2006

CHICAGO - Italian researchers have come up with a novel way for cardiac rehabilitation patients to exercise their damaged hearts without having to squeeze into spandex or gyrate in a gym: Waltzing.

The dance proved to be just as effective as bicycle and treadmill training for improving exercise capacity in a study of 110 heart failure patients, 89 of them men. Compared with others, dancers also reported slightly more improvement in sleep, mood, and the ability to do hobbies and housework and have sex.

"We have to find something that may capture the patients' interest," Dr. Romualdo Belardinelli, director of cardiac rehabilitation at Lancisi Heart Institute in Ancona, Italy, said at an American Heart Association meeting in Chicago on Sunday.

Waltzing was chosen for the study because it is "internationally known" and is quite aerobic, as the study ultimately verified, he said.

The new study involved heart failure patients with an average age of 59. The condition occurs when weakened hearts can no longer pump blood effectively, making simple activities such as climbing stairs and walking the dog tough to do, let alone enjoy.

Researchers assigned 44 patients to a supervised exercise training program of cycling and treadmill work three times a week for eight weeks.

Another group of 44 took dance classes in the hospital gym, alternating between slow and fast waltzes for 21 minutes, three times a week for eight weeks. A third group of 22 patients had no exercise.

Cardiopulmonary fitness increased at similar rates among those who danced or exercised and did not change in those who did neither. Oxygen uptake increased 16 percent among exercisers and 18 percent among dancers. The anaerobic threshold - the point where muscles fatigue - rose 20 percent among exercisers and 21 percent among dancers.

Part of the reason the waltz, an international dance, has health benefits may also be that people interact with partners and social companions rather than exercise alone, doctors said.



Title: Cardio Salsa y Mas

Description: Dance and work-out to the beat of salsa, merengue, cha-cha, samba, punta and bachata.

Time: Classes will begin in November- Saturdays 12-1

Price: Pre-registration fee $24 for 4 classes

On-site registration: $8 per class

For information, contact Rebeca Bangstein at



In 1996, Marla Jennings, one of our instructors, brought me a puzzle to look at.  It had pictures such as #8 that represented famous Christmas Carols.  If you would like to see what the puzzle looked like back then, click Original Copy.

The SSQQ web site came on line in 1999.  For the fun of it, I scanned in Marla's puzzle and shared it with my students.  The puzzle was fun and I got compliments for adding it to the web site.  I didn't much else on the web site, so I just left it where it was and the following year reminded everyone where it was in case they wanted to try it again.

When Search Engines like Google became more powerful in 2001, people from all over the country began to locate my puzzle and try it.  Nor was it limited to the USA.  I got inquiries from Europe and Australia too.  Finally I figured out what was going on. 

Encouraged by all the interest, I started to add more clues that I made up myself.  #42 on the right is an example of a clue I created in 2001,

Today the puzzle to 100 clues and it has become internationally famous.  If you type "Christmas Puzzle" into Google, the SSQQ Puzzle stands at #2 out of 180,000 entries as I write.  "Christmas Carol Puzzle" gets a #1 ranking out of 760,000 entries.  It is fun to see this cute game do so well.

If you would to try your hand at the Christmas Carol Puzzle, by all means do so.

The SSQQ Christmas Carol Quiz




(Editor's Note: This article made me very angry.  Steroids have been a problem in baseball for over ten years, but nothing was done about it.  Everyone knew it was a problem, but claimed until they had proof, their hands were tied.  Two investigative reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle used confidential sources to blow the story open onto the front page of every paper in the country.  People talked to these reporters under the condition that their names would not be revealed. 

These two reporters did the whole country a favor by shining a light on all the cheating that was being done by athletes such as Barry Bonds who used drugs to set records that may never be broken.

Now the government wants to know who the reporters talked to so they can prosecute them.  They are threatening to put these reporters in jail if they don't give up the names of the people they talked to.

Look at it this way.  The moment these reporters and others like them start to break their promises, no one will have the guts to leak stories any more.  You know and I know that the whistle blowers serve an invaluable role in keeping the high and mighty honest.  So if the government can successfully threaten these reporters, investigative reporting goes down the drain. 

I resent the intimidation tactics my own government is using on these reporters. 

Rick Reilly is an award-winning columnist for Sports Illustrated.  Usually I just look at the pictures and wait for the yearly swimsuit issue, but this particular story definitely caught my attention.  Read the story and decide for yourself.  RA)

It's Clear Who's Getting Creamed... The reporters whom the President congratulated for their fine work on the BALCO story may go to the slammer.

Breathe easy, America. Two of the central players in the BALCO steroids scandal look like they're headed for the clink.

One weighs 170 pounds, including glasses, and couldn't bench-press the phone book. The other hasn't lifted a weight since high school.

The criminals? Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who broke open the story -- Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.

The juicer athletes never had a chance against these guys. Their pit-bull reporting triggered a national wake-up call about steroid use that led to congressional hearings and, at long last, steroid testing in baseball.

Thanks to Fainaru-Wada and Williams, the authors of Game of Shadows, we learned the nasty truth about the web of steroid-using athletes and trainers spun by BALCO's mastermind, Victor Conte. Without their reporting the compelling evidence of Barry Bonds's steroid use might never have been revealed. Nor would we know that Jason Giambi and former 100-meter record holder Tim Montgomery had admitted their steroid use to a grand jury.

It's the best sports reporting in our lifetime, so impressive that in April 2005, when Fainaru-Wada and Williams met President Bush at a correspondents-dinner reception, he shook their hands and said, "You've done a service." And why wouldn't he? He said in his 2004 State of the Union address that this country must clean up steroids in pro sports, and Fainaru-Wada and Williams started scrubbing. But then Bush allowed his Attorney General to subpoena them to give up the source of grand jury testimony they'd reported or face jail time.

Hold on, hold on. I hear you yelping: Somebody violated a judge's gag order and leaked secret grand jury testimony, and the government is trying to find out who. Fainaru-Wada and Williams obviously know who it is but refuse to say. They must go directly to jail, not pass Go, etc.

No, they uncovered information that had been part of grand jury testimony, but it was then released to the BALCO defense team and the prosecution in the pretrial process, and it wasn't until 11 days later that the gag order was imposed.

Of course, Fainaru-Wada, 41, and Williams, 56, could simply roll on their source, but then no source would ever speak to them again. Already, Williams says, sources "have started double-clutching a little since we were subpoenaed."

The Hearst Corporation, which owns TV stations, magazines and 12 daily newspapers, including the Chronicle, has received 80 subpoenas of reporters over the last 18 months, compared with five over the previous 18. Meanwhile, Bush runs what is arguably the most secretive administration in history. He even signed an executive order designed to keep presidential papers secret beyond the usual 12-year wait.

Last week, Fainaru-Wada's nine-year-old son said to his father, "Dad, I don't want you to go to jail."

What could Fainaru-Wada say, except, "Sometimes you have to keep your promise no matter what."

So the men whom the President congratulated for their fine work may be going to the slammer for a year and a half for it. Not Bonds, who insisted that the "cream" was an "arthritic rub" and the "clear" was "flaxseed oil."

You want justice? If they are jailed all 18 months they will serve more than four times the sentence of anybody else in the scandal, including Conte, who did only four months.

And they may still be locked up next summer when Bonds -- a man who, according to their reporting, may have committed tax fraud and lied to a grand jury -- breaks Hank Aaron's home run record.

That, my fellow Americans, will be sickening. "If that happens," says Fainaru-Wada, biting his lip, "if we're sitting in jail when that happens, that won't be a moment I'll take well."

The deadline for Fainaru-Wada and Williams to file with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is Nov. 3. Should they lose there, another appeal stage comes after that, then the Supreme Court. At the same time, Senator Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) is trying to get a bill passed that would shield reporters (as 31 states do now) from having to reveal their sources, especially when -- in the eyes of a judge -- the public's right to know something takes precedence over the harm of concealing a source. Which is the case here, times 10. But the bill looks like it will die, mostly because of opposition from the White House. That figures.

These guys should be getting the Pulitzer, not the pen.

Issue date: October 30, 2006



-----Original Message-----
From: Amy R
Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 5:44 AM
Subject: calendar vs website

Sometimes the printed calendars available at the studio are a bit different than the calendar on the website so I would just like to verify which is correct. Advanced Swing/Jitterbug 5 will be taught by Jack on Sundays and Jack/Marla on Mondays during November? And for December it will be taught by Maureen on Sunday and Steve/Marla on Monday? The printed calendar says Jack for December as well as November, but the website is different. Please confirm which is correct.

Thank you!!!  Amy R

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 10:57 AM
To: Amy R
Subject: complaint calendar vs website

I am fairly legendary for making errors.  I admit I am guilty because I am psychologically incapable of proofreading my own material. 

My level of perfection vis a vis details is directly correlated with how much coffee I have had that day.  Little coffee, lots of errors. Lots of coffee, lots of errors. Just the right amount, very few errors.

As a rule, the Internet is ALWAYS more accurate than the printed schedule because I can make corrections on the Internet instantly.

Furthermore, if you see a schedule for November and December, several items in the "December" part of it will likely change when the December-January issue comes out.

Sorry about the inaccuracies.  In the future, do exactly what you did - email me so I can see the problem and correct it.

Rick Archer



-----Original Message-----
From: julie g
Sent: Thursday, August 31, 2006 12:21 PM
Subject: Wedding Dance Lessons


We need dance lessons before our big day!! Sept. 30 2006!

4 weeks left to go!!
I figured 2- classes? or see how it goes? for a Slow Dance to..Elvis Presley's Falling in Love with you

but there will also be a "parents" dance Which we ALL need help with! (4couples actually but 3 couples need lessons)
A waltz to: Could I have this Dance for the rest of my life by Anne Murray

Can I get a price quote and Can we start next week?

Please Help!  Julie G

Marla Archer wrote:

Hello Julie, Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

I can certainly assist you and your fiancé to learn how to slow dance gracefully and work with your group on Waltz.

Here is our wedding link: 

Please take a moment and read the site, it will provide you with helpful info.

Private lessons are $50 per hour and payable by check or in cash.

My current availability is as follows:

Wed. Sept. 6th 5:30 pm
Thurs. Sept 7th 5:30 pm
Tues. Sept 12th 5:30 pm
Fri. Sept. 15th 5:30 pm
Tues. Sept 19th 5:30 pm
Wed. Sept 20th 5:30 pm
Thurs. Sept. 21st 5:30 pm

All six rooms are in use at 7 pm for group classes.

Please let me know which of the dates will work for you.

----- Original Message -----
From: julie g
To: Marla Archer
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 12:40 PM
Subject: Re:Wedding Dance Lessons

Can We do Fri Sept. 15 @ 5:45-6:45 for the Waltz to Ann Murray for the parents?

and 1 class just for us Thurs Sept 21st @ 5:45- 6:45

Do we need to bring the music? 
and is the total $ 100 for the check?

I look forward to hearing from you!    Julie G

Marla Archer wrote:

Hello Julie,

I am unable to take a 5:45 pm lesson on Friday Sept. 15th because I do group registration at 6:30 pm, thus the 5:30 pm availability.

I am available to schedule a lesson on Thurs. Sept. 21st at 5:45 pm.

Yes, you should bring your music on CD. You may write one check for $100 if you wish. The payment needs to be made at the conclusion of your first lesson.

Please let me know if the 5:30 pm time frame will work. 5:45 pm will work on: Tues. Sept. 19th or Wed. Sept. 20th as well.


(Editor's Note: Marla met with this couple one time. They paid her for the lesson and paid her for their next lesson as well ahead of time.)

-------Original Message-------
From: julie g
Date: 9/19/2006 4:38:13 PM
To: Marla Archer
Subject: Re: Wedding Dance Lessons

Hello Marla,

is there any way we can move our dance lesson to Friday OR the following week?
this Thursday is not going to work out. i have a very important school thing.
I need to know what i need to do to make this work especially since we have already paid for the lesson!! :)

please let me know asap!!

Julie G

Marla Archer wrote:

I am very sorry but I am leaving Friday morning at 5:30 am for Boston to take a studio cruise. I will not return until Oct. 1st. (if you look at my original availability, Sept. 21st was the last time offered)

I could be available to work with you from 3:30 to 4:30 on Thursday if that helps out any. We have simply run out of time options.

I know you are getting married on Sept. 30th and the dance lesson was for the wedding, however I am more than willing to reschedule a lesson with you for a future date.

Please let me know if you wish to keep the lesson as is.

Marla Archer
SSQQ Dance Studio

-------Original Message-------
From: julie g
Date: 9/20/2006 12:56:36 AM
To: Marla Archer
Subject: Re:Wedding Dance Lessons

Dear Marla,

3:30 - 4:30 would help so much!!!!!!!!
Thank you, Thank you!

See you then, Julie G

Marla Archer wrote:


I don't know what happed to you this afternoon, but I was at the studio at 3:30 pm ready for your lesson as agreed.  I waited the entire hour for you to show, since you had already prepaid.

We are now square in regards to the lesson pre-payment.

Good Luck to you all!

Marla Archer

-------Original Message-------
From: julie g
Date: 9/21/2006 8:31:24 PM
To: Marla Archer
Subject: Re:  Wedding Dance Lessons

Dear Marla,

Since you obviously read the email I sent back requesting the 3:30 slot I am surprised that you chose not to respond back. I kept checking my email waiting for your response and since it never came I figured you hadn't read the email in time. If you read my email why did you not respond back in setting up our appointment?

I understand I will not be getting the $50 refunded, and this is not an attempt to get it either. I just want you to know that I do not feel as though you "really tried" to arrange this final dance lesson and now it is too late.

I hope that the next couple that comes to you for help will get better treatment and gets their moneys worth. We definitely did not.

Julie G

-------Original Message-------

From: Marla Archer
Date: 9/21/2006 10:36:39 PM
To: julie g
Subject: Re:Wedding Dance Lessons

I am sorry you feel "cheated".

I said I would be available for the lesson at 3:30 pm and you said "See you then".  That phrase indicates it is a done deal.

If you were confused, a simple phone call would have been in order. My phone number is stated along with my signature on the previous emails. Or you could have sent another email.  I checked my email right before I left.

I was trying to accommodate your last minute request. I gave you several different dates to work from the initial email. I saved the 5:30 pm time slot for you on the 21st as you requested. You were the one who was unable to make the agreed upon lesson time. Even though I had numerous personal errands to run prior to my trip, I made time for you at 3:30 because I wanted to help you out.

I have worked with approximately 200 couples this year and have not had a single problem until now.

And I never asked for prepayment of the lesson. I offered to give the $50 in change back.

However, once I get in my car and drive over to the studio in the middle of the day to try to help you at 3:30 pm for a last-minute change in plans, I don't feel I owe you any money just because you failed to make the lesson.

That said, I am sorry about the mix-up. I was looking forward to helping you.

Best of luck,

Marla Archer



(Editor's Note: This story was sent to me by Sharon Shaw, my talented Western Waltz instructor. She asked me to comment on it.  The story was written by a woman named Trish Connery.  She is a dance instructor out of LA.  She also puts together an online newspaper called "Dance Chatter".  I looked at her web site. I noticed that this story below was sent out as a feeler across the nation to solicit comments from other dance professionals.  Her article combined these comments and was quite extensive.

Hey, guys...

I was recently "poached" on by a couple who ostensibly "watched" my class without paying for it, only to see them blatantly performing the material right along with the class. Pissed me off. I didn't get in his face but I did call him on it and he not only didn't stop, it didn't even phase him! . I'm sure almost every teacher, event director, etc., has experienced this "dance poaching" as I call it, whether it's a class, workshop, or even a dance event. We all know there are some chronic abusers in our community who seem to think nothing of what is, in effect, stealing.
I'm not just talking about arriving late to a dance so they don't have to pay, I'm talking about everything from those that "watch a class" rather than pay for it to those who save and reuse wrist bands to avoid paying for conventions.
Why do they feel this is OK? It is because dance is an art, an intangible?
If you can't really touch it, you don't have to pay for it? Or is just because they're cheap? Or even broke? Are they even aware of how disrespectful they are? Or do they consider it fair game? Is dance poaching just something that dance professionals have to live with?
The more I thought about it, the more the whole subject irritated me to the extent that I decided to write about it in my newsletter,
I'm looking for input from teachers, event directors, dance organizers, club directors, DJ's, etc., from any and all dance communities - Swing, Ballroom, Salsa, Country, etc.
What are your most memorable poaching stories and what, if anything, did you do about it? Looking for the funny, the bizarre, the pathetic, etc. Also, any thoughts, issues, concerns, suggestions you might have on the matter.
Let me know if you have a story to contribute, and let me know if you DON'T want me to use your name/affiliation. Feel free to send this on to anyone you think might be interested in contributing.

Trish Connery

 -----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, October 20, 2006 10:35 AM
To: Sharon Shaw
Subject: RE: [HDC] Dance Poachers

Well, there are unethical people in every walk of life.  I can think of a couple situations here at the studio right off the top of my head.

This story is no different from "Salsa Joe", the guy I heard about here at the studio who lets three of his buddies into Room 5 when he thinks no one is looking.  From what I was told, they call him on his cell phone and wait outside the door till he decides the coast is clear.  We haven't caught him yet, but give us time.

There was a couple on our New England cruise who stiffed Marla on her commission ($300) by signing up elsewhere to save a couple bucks. But they got their travel agent to seat them at one of our tables! And they shadowed us constantly throughout the trip because they really wanted to be part of the group.

I don't blame this woman for being angry. No one likes to be taken advantage of. I am surprised she didn't chew him out to his face.



Due to the popularity of the Survivor shows, Texas is planning to do a series entitled, "Survivor-Texas Style."

The contestants will all start in Dallas, then drive to Waco, Austin, San Antonio, over to Houston and down to Brownsville.  They will then proceed up to Del Rio, El Paso, Midland, Odessa, Lubbock and Amarillo.  From there they will go on to Abilene, Fort Worth and finally back to Dallas.

Each will be driving a pink Volvo with bumper stickers that read:

"I'm Gay, I Love the Dixie Chicks, Boycott Beef, I Voted for John Kerry, George Strait Sucks,
Hillary in 2008 and I'm here to confiscate your gun"

The first one to make it back to Dallas alive wins.

And that’s a wrap for December.  Thanks for reading this month's issue of the SSQQ Newsletter!

Rick Archer  (email)


Please direct questions, comments, and contributions to:
Rick Archer at

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