THE SSQQ WEB SITE PROBLEMS
The Rights to host the SSQQ Web Site were purchased by a new company in October behind our back. Since then we have known nothing but continual misery under the administration of the new company. Not only has my volume of sex-related spam email tripled, but my web site has been down or frozen most of the time. Currently we cannot publish much of anything new because they didn't bother to add what are known as "Front Page Extensions". In case you don't know much about the web hosting business, this is kind of like dance teachers forgetting to bring the music with them to class.
Last month I wrote about our November web site problems. Things haven't gotten much better. For a week in December our web site was down completely. I contacted the web server daily without much luck. They have minimal support - you are supposed to leave your name on an answering machine and they will 'call you back'. Oh Sure. Then one day I solved the problem when I accidentally found the solution myself.
Each day I went to the web site and got nothing. One day I accidentally hit a link in my 'internet favorites' and a backwoods part of the SSQQ web site popped up. Astonished, I played around and discovered most of the web site was still up, but not the vital first page. This did me little good because everyone uses the first page to find the rest of the web site, but it made me curious.
After more experimenting, I even got my first page (home page) to come up by typing in "ssqq.com" and hitting 'enter' instead of putting in the expected www.ssqq.com. In other words, "ssqq.com" worked but "www.ssqq.com" didn't. Unfortunately almost all people look for the more common www.ssqq.com address so to the vast majority our web site was still down.
I contacted the company, but it still took my pathetic web server three more days to solve this simple problem. However it is at least back for now. Thank goodness.
Except that it is now nearly impossible to publish updates!!!
David Schroeder is in the process of helping me transfer the web site to a more stable company, but even this transfer is having its hitches and bumps. I anticipate the new web site problems will be over by New Years
As for the On Line Registration which was broken at the start of December, at least it is fixed now. Thank you, David.
Lately I have felt too stupid to own a computer. Do you ever feel like that?
JANUARY SCHEDULE OF SSQQ DANCE CLASSES.
Our new January dance semester begins Sunday, January 6.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE JANUARY 2002 SCHEDULE
1. January starts quickly with Swing Acrobatics. Taught by Paul Foltyn, this special course requires a partner as the lifts, drops, dips, and jumps work off of timing. This course is only offered twice a year so grab it when you have the chance!
2. Judy Archer brings back her popular 4-week class on those tricky Twostep and Polka Circle Turns on Sunday afternoons. Then at 7 pm Judy begins a new series of Western Waltz classes. Waltz is of course the classic Western dance of Romance.
3. The Beginning Whip/West Coast Swing Superclass is back!! These two fascinating dances are taught side by side on Sunday and Thursday. Whip and WCS are danced to Disco, Blues, & Rock music. They feature fancy footwork, sexy hip motion, and flashy spins. January is the perfect month to take on this challenging project!
4. Advanced Swing and Salsa dancers take note: Judy Archer covers two relatively new Advanced classes in January. Zoot Suit Riot 6 on Mondays has only been offered a couple times and likewise for her much-praised Advanced Salsa Mambo 6 on Thursdays. Both courses will help get the new year started on the right (& left) foot!
5. Beginning Night Club Twostep will be taught by Sharon Crawford on Wednesdays at 7 pm. Night Club Twostep is an especially graceful dance that works perfectly to the many Western ballads that are too slow for Twostep or Polka. This course will be followed by Intermediate and Advanced levels as well. .
6. Martian Whip begins a new era in 2002. This class will combine the super talents of State Whip Champions Ted Jones and Margie Saibara with the fabulous women's WCS footwork of Joanne Spuck. Thursdays will cover advanced styling techniques for both men and women in the first hour along with advanced patterns taught by Rick Archer in the 2nd hour. Then on Friday there will be a review of Thursday in the first hour followed by difficult patterns in the 2nd hour. Friday Night will also tend to cover more Whip material. Sign up for either night and get the 2nd night at no extra charge. Expect to cover a lot of material in this course!
7. SSQQ's toughest Western Swing class, Death Valley, returns on Fridays in January. Taught by Heartbeat Coach Susie Merrill, expect lots of tough patterns and the latest in 'western dance technique' from Susie every week.
PARTIES PARTIES PARTIES
THE SSQQ CHRISTMAS PARTY - Friday, December 21, 9:15 pm - Midnight $7
Wear something festive as we Twostep, Swing, Waltz, and Whip the night away. Much of the music will have a Christmas Twist to it as we play songs like the George Strait versions of "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". And for one night of the year I think you will thoroughly enjoy dancing the Polka to "Feliz Navidad" and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree". There are plenty of Christmas Swing songs to choose from - "Santa Claus Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train", "Little Saint Nick' by the Beach Boys, and "Jingle Bell Rock" by Brenda Lee. The Waltzes will be gorgeous Irish Instrumentals that will surely have you asking where they came from. And the Whip/West Coast music will be the regular fare. This is a fun party!
THE SSQQ NEW YEARS PARTY - Monday, December 31, 9 pm - 1 am $12
Our New Years Party is all about dancing. It is safe, friendly, and fun. You have a smoke-free environment, plenty of room to dance, and a relaxed atmosphere (although we do expect you to dress up!). In addition it is a nice place to visit with friends. Although there is drinking, it is much less than at other venues. We have never had a problem to date.
The music in our main room will consist of a great deal of Big Band Swing and Foxtrot Music plus the popular Irish Waltzes. In addition there will be a healthy dose of Ballroom music in Room 1 including Cha Cha, Tango, and Salsa music.
Room 4 will be Country-Western with a healthy dose of Western Whips.
Mitch Istre will be on duty as your DJ. He will take requests for both rooms.
At 11:40 we put our on crazy hats, grab our noisemakers, and start the celebration. Just before Midnight we pour out the champagne and start the big countdown to 2002!
SWING/CHARLESTON PARTY - Saturday, January 12, 9:15 pm - Midnight $7
Crash Courses 7-9:
BOX FOX - Adele/Marty
BEG LINDY HOP - Gloria
ARGENTINE TANGO - Don
SALSA DIPS AND LUNGES - Martin
20s CHARLESTON - Judy
Music: Swing in Room 1, Salsa in Room 4.
BACK IN THE SADDLE WESTERN PARTY - Saturday, January 26, 9:15 - Midnight $7
Crash Courses 7-9:
BEG C&W : TEXAS TWOSTEP - Vicki
INT TWOSTEP: CIRCLE TURNS - Mo
LATIN HUSTLE - Jack Benard
SWEETHEARTS OF THE RODEO - Rick
TRIPLE TWOSTEP - Anita
Music: Western/Waltz in Room 1, Whip/WCS in Room 4
WEST COAST SWING CONTINUES TO ANNIHILATE WHIP
Whip was once the dominant slotted Swing dance in Houston. However Whip has always been a difficult dance to learn. When the simpler and flashier system of West Coast Swing entered the Houston dance scene in the 90s initially by way of Western competitions, it caught on quickly.
Now here in Houston, birthplace of the Houston Whip, interest in this eye-catching, sexy, hometown dance has fallen to an all-time low.
Back in May of this year, I wrote an article about the declining status of Whip dancing in Houston. If you care to read (or reread) the article, http://ssqq.com/information/savewhip01.htm
Now in December 7 months later I believe I was correct in my predictions. I basically asserted that Whip - the hitch and bump/double resistance hip motion - was no longer being taught in the Beginner/Intermediate classes of Southwest Whip, Houston Whip, or anywhere else for that matter. I predicted that Whip would start to disappear from the Houston slotted swing dance scene since the new generation didn't have a clue what Whip was.
I think if the Whip were easier to learn, it would have a better chance to stick around, but I grow more skeptical all the time. My own staff encourages me to de-emphasize the Whip to follow the current status quo which is pretty much West Coast Swing.
Historically January has always been an important month here at SSQQ for learning Whip. Our largest classes have always been in January. It is of course the perfect time for a change so, starting in January, our basic curriculum will be mostly West Coast Swing.
We will still teach the Whip as part of the Bump Step in Beginning Whip and we will continue to teach the difficult Whip Double Resistance Basic in Crash Courses, but the majority of Whip from now on will be taught on Fridays in our advanced Martian Whip class.
And the times they are a-changin'! - Bob Dylan
At Fun Country's National Championships up in Oklahoma City on December 7-8-9, all sorts of dancers from the SSQQ Community cleaned up. My spy reports:
Susie Merrill's fabulous Heartbeat Team was clearly the best in their division. (Editor's Note: You can see their performance any time you want during Break Time at SSQQ. Just ask and I will play the exciting tape!)
Donna Tillery won her Novice division. In the words of our spy, Donna was everyone's darling at the competition. She shined on the dance floor!
Rick Lybarger won first place in his division.
Jill Banta placed second in her division. They were all wonderful!
Coach Susie M. had these nice things to say about her team:
"Yes, the team did GREAT. I was very proud of them. One of the leading members of UCWDC was there judging the teams. His name is Dave Thornton-from Missouri. I have never had a judge seek me out before, but he came looking for me after our performance. He said that the team was great. The dance was full of energy and never stopped. He could only find one "negative" comment to make. He felt that the men should have identical belt buckles! He would really like to see us compete on the UCWDC circuit next year because the World Championships will be back in Nashville. They are in the Netherlands this year which is why we chose to do Fun Country instead. UCWDC is a much harder route to take and more expensive for everyone, but Ben, Diana, Ann, Ray, Janet, Brian and Anita would all like to shoot to go there next year. They are all staying on the team for sure. I know that I am losing Chris. I also will be losing Randy and possibly a couple others.
We will need a couple of new women and probably four new men. I have been looking at my night club class for likely candidates. If you see any men that you think would do well and might like to perform and travel with the group, please point them my way!!"
(Editor's Note: If you would like to try out for Susie's team, contact her at SMerril2@owenhealth.com)
EMAIL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Thu 11/29/2001 11:50 AM
Hi Rick, With Christmas approaching and my trip back to Australia looming I thought it timely to write to thank you for something you probably don't know needs thanks.
When I first arrived in Houston two years ago it was most reluctantly.
For the first 18 months I hated the place and couldn't wait to leave. Then I found dancing and more specifically, SSQQ. From that time on my whole attitude to Houston has changed and I now love it here and don't want to leave. I am even going home for Christmas wishing I could stay here instead. Quite a remarkable change in six months.
What I have found at SSQQ is a wonderful group of people, some of whom have become friends, and a place where feel I comfortable and that I belong.
When you leave your home network of security, family and work, it is very hard to find your place in a new location. To someone starved of that for many months you cannot begin to understand how fantastic it has been for me to feel a sense of belonging again. Thank you for making SSQQ the place it is. There are benefits for newcomers like me that you may not realise are there. But perhaps you do.
I wish you and your staff a very happy Christmas. Every teacher I have encountered has been terrific and part of that process of making me feel at home. It's a great team and a wonderful thing you have created.
(Editor's Note: and Thank you very much! Big Smooch and Hug.)
SPEAKING OF AUSTRALIA: WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS WEAR UNDERWEAR IN PUBLIC
Contributed by Donna Ruth
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
November 10, 2001
From Queensland Mall comes this story of a couple who drove their car to Kmart only to have their car break down in the parking lot.
The man told his wife to carry on with the shopping while he fixed the car there in the lot. The wife returned later to see a small group of people near the car.
On closer inspection she saw a pair of male legs protruding from under the chassis. Although the man was in shorts, they had ridden up his legs, and his lack of underpants had turned his private parts into glaringly public ones.
Unable to stand the embarrassment, she dutifully stepped forward, quickly put her hand up his shorts, and tucked everything back into place.
Upon regaining her feet she looked across the hood and found herself staring at her husband who was staring at her in astonishment.
The poor mechanic under the car had to have three stitches in his head.
EMAIL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: CHRISTMAS DANCE STORY
Mon 12/17/2001 2:41 PM
My name is Frank Jefferson. I doubt you will remember me and my wife Jackie, but we remember your studio very well. We took lessons at SSQQ back in 1991 for about five months until my company transferred me to Denver that summer.
The reason I am writing is to tell you how your studio and dancing changed my life and my marriage eleven years ago. I ran across your web site the other day while I was visiting my oldest son here in Houston. He mentioned an interest in taking dance classes so I looked you up on the Internet. As I read some of your anecdotes, I started to reminisce about learning to dance Western at SSQQ. Then it occurred to me my Christmas story might be interesting to some of the people who visit your studio.
As 1990 neared its conclusion, things were going pretty well for me. My career as an accountant was going well, one boy was finishing his doctorate work at UT, my other son was in college and my daughter was a senior in high school. I thought my marriage was doing pretty well, but as I look back I realize increasingly my wife and I were spending less and less time together. Part of the problem was I had become a golf addict.
Back then I played golf Friday, Saturday, and Sunday without question and usually managed to play a round during the week plus at least go practice my driving or my putting after work one or two other days. It was an obsession with me. I love the game with a passion (still do for that matter!). What other sport allows you to visit with friends, take a leisurely stroll through the woods and beautiful scenery, gives you some good exercise, and challenges you mentally as well as physically?
Even when I wasn't playing, I was reading golf magazines or watching a golf tournament on TV or on videotape. I may have physically been in the house, but mentally I was usually on the golf course. As I said, I was a golf addict.
Then came Christmas 1990. Christmas was always an agony for me since as usual I had no clue what to buy my wife for a present. What do you give the woman who has every possession she would ever need? I wracked my brains for what to get her. Finally in desperation I gave up and simply asked, "Jackie, what do you want for Christmas this year?"
It was almost like she had been waiting for this moment! Without hesitation her reply was to grab her purse and pull out a schedule listing your studio's dance classes. I think a girl friend had given it to her. She laid it out on the table, pointed to it, and simply said, "Frank, I want you to take a dance class with me in January." No anger. No pleading. No guilt trip or anything like that. This was just like my Jackie. I asked her a question and she answered me matter-of-fact. She wanted me to take a dance class with her.
For some reason, I was stunned. I had not expected this. Money I had to give. Going out and buying something was no big deal. Even building something like a porch would have been no problem. But committing some valuable free time to do something stupid like take dance lessons? You gotta be kidding!
But Jackie knew me too well. Deep down she knew I enjoy pleasing her. She held eye contact and said nothing. In fact she smiled the whole time. I think she knew exactly what was going through my mind. For a while I sort of felt set up, but eventually I realized it wasn't the worst thing in the world that she had asked me to do. I can still remember while she just sat there at the kitchen table watching me make up my mind! I think she enjoyed watching me squirm, something she has never denied for a moment.
It took me a long time to answer. Finally I realized I wasn't going to figure a way out of this. Despite my best efforts I could not come up with one good excuse so I gave up and said, "Okay. If that's what you want, you got it!" I wrapped up a letter and put it in a box. When she opened it Christmas Day, it said, "I promise to take a dance class with you in January! Love, Frank" Jackie gave me a big hug and grinned as my kids teased me unmercifully. What had I gotten myself into?
Two weeks later we started taking a Twostep class at your studio. I think the teacher was a lady named Sharon. Fortunately the class was on a Wednesday which was practically the only day I didn't play golf.
I was so nervous the first night. I did not know what to expect. At first I didn't even know if your studio really existed. We couldn't see anything from the street that looked like a dance studio. We had to walk down this long hallway till we found the place to register. Then we sat on some chairs in a big room with about 60 other people with a bunch of guys who looked just as worried as I was.
Once we got going, to my surprise the moves weren't very difficult. Within fifteen minutes Jackie and I were already dancing to music. Then came a shock. Sharon asked us to switch partners. Jackie hadn't told me about this! She grinned at me as suddenly I was expected to move to dance with a woman I had never seen before in my life. What had I gotten myself into? My heart sank with worry. Fortunately I soon discovered the moves worked with the other women in the class too. This was good!
In fact I began to enjoy dancing with everyone in class. Everyone was so nice! Once I got on the wrong foot and accidentally stepped on a lady's foot. I didn't put all my weight on her foot, thank goodness, but it still had to hurt. Her name was Carol. She laughed and said don't worry about it. I just melted with gratitude at her forgiveness. From then on Carol and I became good friends. At each class she would point at her foot and say it had almost healed, but could I aim at the other one instead just in case? By an odd coincidence another time I ran Carol into the pole in the middle of the room. This time as I stared in shock at my stupidity, Carol almost died laughing. "What are you trying to do, Frank, kill me? Did someone pay you to do this?"
At the end of the evening, Sharon told us about Practice Night. Jackie asked if I would mind staying. I looked at my watch and thought about work the next day. I was tired and ready to go, but then I saw that look on her face. Sure, why not? I said we could stay for a little while and see what it was like.
It turned out to be more of a challenge than I had expected. Without the teacher calling out the timing, I had a hard time figuring out how the steps fit the beat. And I couldn't tell a Polka from a Waltz from a Twostep to save my life if I had to. However Jackie came through like a charm. She told me to just dance and she would try to follow. Although I doubt I was anywhere near the beat, once this pressure was off, I started to enjoy plowing around the floor. I had an absolute ball! This was better than dodge 'em cars! The highlight of the night came towards the end. I had been so absorbed in counting "slow slow quick quick" to myself I was oblivious to everything around me. But after a particularly good run around the floor, I realized I had danced an entire song without making a mistake. I looked at Jackie and saw her beaming with pride and happiness. She was so grateful to be here with me that her smile brought actual tears to my eyes. I had not seen her smile at me in this way in a long, long time. I will never forget that moment.
To make a long story short, dancing became a hobby I looked forward to just like I did with golf. On days I knew I was going to dance class, I would hitch a ride to work. Then later Jackie would pick me up at work and we would go somewhere for dinner before class. We began to chat again just like we did earlier in our marriage. Then we would go to class and have fun learning the Western Swing. We would visit with some of the people we had grown to like before class and during breaks. Practice Night became pretty much a ritual with us as well.
Then in March 1991 I got the news - my company wanted me to transfer to Denver. God, how I hated agreeing to do it! As I talked the move over with Jackie, I was surprised that golf never really entered my mind. However one thing that kept going through my mind was where was I going to dance in Denver? But the money was too good to resist plus with my daughter leaving soon for college, it was less of a problem for the two of us to relocate than the other families in the firm.
Up in Denver we found no studio like yours was in existence. And Western dancing like you have in Houston was practically non-existent. But dancing was in my system now, so we decided to try Ballroom Dancing. To my surprise, I liked it just as much as Western. I even discovered I was able to tell a Waltz from a Tango and be able to keep the beat as well!
We discovered a 'dance underground' in Denver. Practically every night of the week a different studio would offer social Ballroom dancing, and on the weekends there were special events sponsored through a dance organization I am sure you have heard of called USABDA. The big moment for me was when I realized I was looking forward to a Saturday evening dance with my lovely wife just as much as I was looking forward to playing golf that afternoon!
I still play a lot of golf, but have cut back a little to make more time for my dancing as well. Recently I even let myself get talked into dance competitions. Can you believe that? We haven't won anything yet, but the point is I enjoy improving at dance just like I once obsessed over my putting. I realize my story borders on being sappy, but the truth is that dance has become the favorite activity for my wife and I to share.
Thanks again for helping us get started!
Regards, Frank Jefferson
(Editor's Note: I would imagine stories like this one are more common than we might realize, but very few people take the time to write them down and send them to me. I am particularly grateful to Mr. Jefferson, whom I did indeed do not know, for sending me this timely and poignant letter.)
EMAIL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: MARTY SHEA LIVES!
Marty Shea is/was a much-loved SSQQ instructor who left Houston for a job as a cancer researcher in Maryland about this time a year ago. Oddly, he left no email address for us to keep tabs on him. It was like he dropped off the face of the earth. Quite frankly, I missed him a lot!
Then magically on Friday, December 14, Marty reappeared at the studio wearing a big grin almost one year to the day he left. It was like he had never gone. Unfortunately I saw him just as I was out the door taking my daughter to an appointment, so I was unable to stay long and chat. I regret terribly not being able to see him!
Fortunately, Marty followed up his brief visit with this email:
Mon 12/17/2001 6:08 PM
Greetings from the land of crab cakes.
I had stopped by the studio last Friday night and was lucky enough to see some of you. I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know how things have been up here.
It's been a little over a year now and things are moving relatively smoothly now. If you remember, I started work as a scientist at a small biotech start-up called Avalon Pharmaceuticals in Maryland. I believe I was employ #21 when I joined, and now we're up to 50. The company is involved in cancer research and is doing well. We just completed our second round of financing for $70 million, which should keep me busy for at least a few more years. The story was just published in the Washington Post:
Regarding dancing, things are much different than in Houston. Polka and East Coast swing are rarely danced, West coast swing and hustle are HUGE. Country Western clubs are few and far between (the nearest one to me is one hour away), yet ballrooms and halls exist hosting different styles depending on the night you choose. Nothing, and I mean nothing, exists that comes anywhere close to an SSQQ type of environment, unfortunately. I'm beginning to think SSQQ is a unique situation that Houstonians should feel lucky they have available. I keep looking for a studio like SSQQ, but I have a feeling the closest one is 1400 miles away ;-)
Top 5 things I miss about Houston: Friends, SSQQ/CW clubs, Mexican food, courteous behaviour, Texas culture.
Top 5 things I like about Maryland: Close to relatives, Italian food, Washington D.C. sites, snowy winters, great hiking.
On a serious note, I sincerely apologize to everyone for not keeping in touch. I have asked myself why I had been remiss. I believe it was because when I first moved to Maryland, I was quite depressed about leaving Houston: all my friends, the dancing, the culture, volunteer activities, my job at Baylor... Not clinically depressed, but definitely down in the dumps. Speaking with people down there only conjured up good memories of old and saddened me. Probably subconsciously, I avoided contact because of the stirring of emotions. All this doesn't excuse my actions (or lack thereof) but may explain them. A year later, with me now settled in up here and having a more stable, enjoyable life, I find it much easier to think of Houston and contacting old friends. Again, it was never personal, and I hope you all understand and forgive my negligence.
I plan on going to World's in January 2003 in Nashville (hopefully entering a Pro-Am with Debbie Tuttle, who teaches West Coast here in D.C.). I also hope to visit Houston from time to time and would hope to see some of you again. Conversely, if any of you travel through, or visit D.C., I would love to hear from you and meet up. I hope everyone is doing well and I hope to hear from some of you, and continue with communication on a more personal level.
Because of not knowing all e-mail addresses, I know I have left some off my list. Particularly Susie (the team) and Sylvia (the center), but all others too, please give my best to others I may have accidentally neglected in contacting.
Have a happy holiday all!
345 Market St. West, #316
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
EMAIL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: AIN'T NO SUNSHINE WHEN SHE'S GONE
A year ago this time we lost Mary Shea, now this year we lose Swing Dancer and Comets Fan extraordinaire Shine Chang. Shine leaves many friends behind in Houston who love her dearly for her warmth, her smile, and her odd beat sense of humor. Although Shine is a little too brilliant for me to always understand, she was very tolerant with me. I will miss her a lot!
Mon 12/03/2001 2:59 PM
Yes, it's true, I'm running away!
After a short 6.23 years (1625 working days, 95% CI=5.89-6.83 years) in the Department of Epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Prevention at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, I am racing for a cure to the National Cancer Institute.
There, I will take on the role of the Associate Director of the NCI's Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program, in charge of program evaluation, epidemiology mentoring, and leadership development.
I will also continue pursing my research in cancer prevention focusing on body composition, its related correlates, and their combined influence on cancer risk and progression of disease.
My new contact information is as follows, although at this point I do not yet have an email address at NCI:
Shine Chang, Ph.D.
Associate Director Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program Office of Preventive Oncology Division of Cancer Prevention National Cancer Institute Executive Plaza South, Suite T-41
6130 Executive Blvd, MSC 7361 Bethesda, MD 20892-7361 (301) 496 - 8640 (301) 402 - 4863 (fax)
In the interim, you can email to a temporary email address:
WINTER AT THE INDIAN RESERVATION
Contributed by Marlane Kayfes and Mike Guillory
The young Indian man had just finished his graduate school training. He had studied hard for six long years in preparation for his future role as 'Tribal Leader' for his Indian tribe. Now it was autumn. Today he was conducting his very first tribal meeting on the remote reservation.
At the end of the meeting, one of the elders stood up and asked the new 'Chief' if the winter was going to be cold or mild. The young man was taken aback, but carefully hid his feelings as his leadership seminar had prepared him to do. Since he was an Indian Chief trained in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked up at the sky, he didn't have a clue what the weather was going to be.
Nevertheless, he knew he had to respond quickly to give the appearance of competence. To be on the safe side, he replied to his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold. Several of the Indians smiled and nodded in agreement at his confident show of wisdom. This prediction indicated that the members of the village should begin to collect wood for the coming winter.
As he watched how diligently the villagers brought in the wood, the new Chief worried about his prediction. Being a practical sort, after several days the young man got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the local office of the National Weather Service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"
"At first it appeared it would be a mild winter, but our latest indications say it looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed," the meteorologist at the weather service responded.
Reassured, the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood in order to be prepared. However a week later he noticed his latest order had prompted the tribe to gather what seemed to be a near mountain of wood.
Now he was sweating for two reasons: it wasn't even remotely cold and his people had gone to a lot of work based on his prediction. He nervously called the National Weather Service again. "Is it going to be a very cold winter?"
"Why, yes it is," the man at National Weather Service again replied, "we now think it's going to be one of the coldest winters ever."
Flabbergasted, the young Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of wood they could find.
Two weeks later the temperature had only dropped at most a degree or two, yet the stack of firewood was so tall it had become a local tourist attraction. The Chief frowned as he watched all the people dressed in shorts and Hawaiian shirts taking pictures of 'Firewood Mountain'. But when he saw a TV station truck arrive to take footage of the event, he completely panicked.
Frantically he called the National Weather Service again. "Are you ABSOLUTELY sure that the winter is going to be very cold?"
"Absolutely," the man replied. "The latest indications suggest that it's going to be one of the coldest winters ever."
"The word 'Suggest' isn't good enough. How can you be so sure?" the Chief asked.
The weatherman replied, "The Indians are collecting wood like crazy!!!"
THE DECEMBER/JANUARY SSQQ QUIZ - GREAT OPENING LINES!
Reprinted from the December Microsoft Encarta Newsletter:
Have you ever been so moved, amused, or provoked by the first line of a novel that it stayed in your memory long after you finished the book and put it back on the shelf?
Here's your chance to see just how many first lines you remember (or how many you can guess). Try to match each of the following opening lines with the correct novel. When you get your answers, email them to Rick Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org 10 of 13 right get you a free Practice Night in January plus credit in the next Newsletter!
1. "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."
a) Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
b) Angels and Insects, A. S. Byatt
c) The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
d) Kiss of the Spider Woman, Manuel Puig
2. "All children, except one, grow up."
a) Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne
b) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Caroll
c) Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans
d) Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie
3. "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
a) The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe
b) Dead Souls, Nikolay Gogol
c) Paul Clifford, by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.
d) Bleak House, Charles Dickens
4. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
a) Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontλ
b) Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
c) The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
d) The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
5. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
a) Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
b) Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
c) Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
d) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams
6. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair
a) Double Indemnity, James M. Cain
b) The Two Towers, J. R. R. Tolkien
c) All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
d) A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
7. "Call me Ishmael."
a) Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
b) Mumbo Jumbo, Ishmael Reed
c) Moby Dick, Herman Melville
d) The Letter of Marque, Patrick O'Brian
8. "Call me Jonah."
a) Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
b) Moby Dick, Herman Melville
c) Catch-22, Joseph Heller
d) The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon
9. "I am a sick man ... I am a spiteful man."
a) Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
b) Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
c) The Misanthrope, Moliθre
d) Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
10. "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendνa was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
a) The Garden of Forking Paths, Jorge Luis Borges
b) Hopscotch, Julio Cortαzar
c) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcνa Mαrquez
d) The Old Gringo, Carlos Fuentes
11. "The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended."
a) Dune, Frank Herbert
b) 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke
c) Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
d) The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
12. "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."
a) The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
b) To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
c) The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
d) The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton
13. "'To be born again,' sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, 'first you have to die.'" a) The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
b) The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
c) A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
d) The Serpent and the Rope, Raja Rao
TONGUE TWISTER - THE CAT IN THE HAT
Contributed by Patty Jones
This is Dr. Seuss' famous tongue twister from the 'Cat in the Hat'.
Take your time and see if you can read each line aloud without a mistake. No fair doing it slowly; to appreciate its tongue twisting ability completely, you must read it out loud quickly!
Ready, Set, Go!
This is this cat
This is is cat
This is how cat
This is to cat
This is keep cat
This is a cat
This is moron cat
This is busy cat
This is for cat
This is forty cat
This is seconds cat
Now be sure to go back and read the THIRD word in each line from the top down to fully appreciate how clever you were! And don't forget to pass it on to your friends to spread further Christmas Joy!
AIR TRAVEL IN AMERICA WITH DAVE BARRY
In the Houston Chronicle today (December 17) I noticed an article that said Americans now have more confidence in the IRS than they do in the airline industry.
A woman friend of mine returned from a Thanksgiving trip to see her father in Philadelphia. Her necklace apparently tripped a metal detector. Despite the presence of her husband, her two children, and her distinctly non-profiled appearance, this woman was not allowed to take off her jewelry and try again. Instead she was pulled aside and practically strip-searched in the presence of her family. She said it was one of the most humiliating things that have ever happened to her.
With this story fresh in my mind, I was appalled to read this story written by humorist Dave Barry:
Air Travel with Dave Barry
Sunday, November 25, 2001
Air travel sure is a big old laundry hamper of fun these days. That's what I was thinking as I was removing my clothing in front of hundreds of people at the Denver airport.
For some reason, my particular traveling party had been singled out by the security people for a near-proctological level of scrutiny. This surprised me, because my party consisted of me, my wife, and our 20-month old daughter.
Nevertheless we were singled out. This meant that while the other travelers - all of whom, frankly, looked suspicious to me - zipped through security, we were ordered off to the side where a man told me to remove my shoes, belt and wallet, which he handed to a woman who walked off with them.
I was hoping that these were security personnel, as opposed to wallet thieves who had figured out that, these days, air travelers will do anything they are ordered to do. ("OK, put your left hand in, take your left hand out, do the Hokey Pokey and shake it all about.")
Next, the man told me to hold my arms out so he could scan me. This meant I had to let go of my pants, which, being beltless, began to slide down. While I was performing as the World's Oldest Chippendale Dancer, other security people were insisting that my daughter toddle alone through the metal detector.
They finally let us pass, but when we got to our gate, they called out our names - only our names - and ordered us to hold out our arms to be scanned again, while all the other passengers looked on, no doubt wondering what kind of low-life terrorists we were to be lugging around a baby.
It gave me the security of knowing that if anything remotely suspicious did occur on the flight, our fellow passengers would know exactly who to beat senseless first
(Editor's Note: It is a shame that the threat of terrorism has made our nation so edgy, but some of the airline security people seem to be crossing the line between caution and senseless intimidation.)
AN ARTICLE ABOUT MEN PLAYING FIELD HOCKEY
(Editor's Note: I was fascinated by this article from the November 26 article of Sports Illustrated. It details how boys are allowed to play on girls field hockey teams. Does anybody have any sense anymore? Whatever happened to the phrase "go pick on somebody your own size?")
November 26 issue
Not Your Average Skirt Chaser
by Rick Reilly
The strongest high school field hockey player in all of western Massachusetts stand 6' 5", weights 205 pounds and would look better in his skirt if he shaved his legs. His name is Ryan Sherburne, and he led Mohawk Trail Regional High in Shelburne Falls to the state semifinals this year. Problem is, he's not within a RuPaul chorus line of being a girl.
Bigger and faster than a Chrysler minivan, Ryan, 17, has a slap shot that nearly separated a few girls from their sports bras this year. And people are mad about it. "What is it going to take - a girl being seriously hurt?" ask Longmeadow High coach Ann Simmons. "Parents could sue me for having their kids out there."
One of Ryan's shots doubled over a girl on an opposing team, forcing her to the sideline. When Ryan's father, Bill, asked her coach if the girl's stomach felt better, the coach snarled, "Stomach? Put it this way: if your son was hit where she got hit, he'd still be lying on the field."
There have been a lot of snarls in Ryan's direction, and he has heard them all.
Football field is that way, Bubba.
Pick on somebody your own size!
Hey, sweetheart, you free after the game?
"It doesn't bother me," says Ryan, a senior midfielder who first tried field hockey five years ago while rehabbing from a knee injury. "I just play, and people can say what they want."
They're saying a lot. Parents are worried about their daughter's safety. Mothers on opposing sidelines have screamed, "Kill him! Knock him on his ass!"
"It gets to the point where I don't want him going to the bathroom by himself," says Mohawk Trail coach Lynn Hoeppner. "to hear adults taunt a kid
Hard to believe. I say let everyone play."
Fine. But does Ryan have to play with girls? "He loves the game," says Bill, "and there's nowhere else to play."
Ryan isn't the only one. Seven of the 21 field hockey teams in western Massachusetts had at least one boy on their rosters this season. Two of the last three Division I state champs have started boys. Amherst-Pelham Regional High jayvee girls were led by 5' 10", 220-pound former football lineman Bradley Bell, who's a freshman and should play on the varsity next year. Longmeadow High freshman Maria Koenigs, who's about the size of a parking meter, came home in tears after a game against Bell. "I was scared," she says, "and I don't think he has a right to come into our game and make us scared. Besides, what self-respecting guy would wear a skirt to play a game?"
Not only is Ryan unashamed to wear the Warrior's pleated plaid skirt on the field - even in front of his girlfriend - but he also wears it to school on game days, as do all his teammates.
Opposing coach: "C'mon girls. I'll bet he puts his skirt on two legs at a time, just like you do!"
Boys are a problem that's whittling away at the fabric of field hockey in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. "Playing with boys is awful!" one girl wrote on an Internet field hockey site. "When you win, people think it's only because of the boys on your team. It's so defeating."
For feminists it's a nasty little issue. For one thing the reason Ryan can play is that Massachusetts has an equal rights amendment in its constitution.
Eight years ago the state's Superior Court ruled that the amendment applied to athletics. That meant boys could not be barred from playing on girls' teams. Even though field hockey is as male as jock itch everywhere else in the world, the U.S. has zero boys' high school teams. "We lost in court so many times," says Paul Wetzel of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, which appealed the court ruling, "that we gave up. (The decision) doesn't make sense, but there's nothing we can do."
Of course, a judge's allowing it doesn't make it right. True, girls play on some teams in boys' sports, but they don't fundamentally change those sports. Ryan Sherburne changes the girls' game, as does Brad Bell.
These parents must have half a brain to permit their hulking teenage piles of testosterone to go out in half a dress and whomp on girls half their size. Yeah, they have a constitutional right to do so, but not the moral right. The next dad who allows it gets a field hockey shot right were it hurts.
And that ain't the stomach.
IN THE NEWS: RANSOM FROM THE MOVIE 'FARGO' LURES WOMAN TO HER DEATH
Tokyo Woman Dies Hunting Movie Loot.
Houston Chronicle, December 8, 2001
St. Paul, Minnesota -
Kidnappers in the movie 'Fargo' buried the $1 million ransom in the snow along a desolate highway and nobody ever found it. But a 28-year old Japanese woman apparently died trying last month.
Takako Konishi flew from her home in Tokyo to Minneapolis last month and boarded a bus for Bismarck, North Dakota. The next day, November 10, she was seen walking along a road.
"She was just walking around out there," said Bismarck Police LT. Nick Sevart.
A citizen took her to the police department, where she pulled out a hand-scrawled map and told officers in her halting English that she had seen 'Fargo' and was looking for the ransom money.
The woman spoke very little English, and the officers spoke no Japanese. "They tried to explain to her this was just a movie," Sevart said. "It was fictional."
That may have been hard to explain as the movie's opening credits said it was based on a true story, but no such event took place however.
After talking with Bismarck police, Konishi decided to go to Fargo, North Dakota. Police took her to the bus station. Two days later, on November 12, Konishi took a cab from Frago to Detriot Lakes, Minnesota. Appaprently she was interested in trying to see the Leonid meteor showers, said Detroit Lakes Police Chief Kelvin Keena.
The cabdriver let her out about 2 pm at Detroit Lake on the southern edge of Detroit Lakes. She apparently made no arrangements to be picked up, Keena said.
Detroit Lake has cabins and homes all around it, but no one reported seeing Konishi.
Three days later, on November 15, a bow hunter discovered Konishi's body about a mile from where the cabdriver let her off. The cause of her death is being investigated, but Keena said the likely cause was death by exposure.
VENUS AND MARS: THE COW FROM OHIO
Contributed by Chris Holmes
Cow from Ohio
The only cow in a small town in Arkansas stopped giving milk. The people did some research and found they could buy a cow up in Mansfield, Ohio, for $200.00.
They bought the cow from Ohio and the cow was wonderful. It produced lots of milk all of the time, and the people were pleased and very happy. They decided to acquire a bull to mate with the cow and produce more cows like it. They would never have to worry about their milk supply again.
They bought a bull and put it in the pasture with their beloved cow. However, whenever the bull came close to the cow, the cow would move away. No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move away from the bull and he could not succeed in his quest.
The people were very upset and decided to ask the Vet, who was very wise, what to do. They told the Vet what was happening.
"Whenever the bull approaches our cow, she moves away. If he approaches from the back, she moves forward. When he approaches her from the front, she backs off. An approach from the side and she walks away to the other side."
The Vet thinks about this for a minute and asked, "Did you buy this cow in Ohio?"
The people were dumbfounded, since they had never mentioned where they bought the cow.
"You are truly a wise Vet," they said. "How did you know we got the cow in Ohio?"
The Vet replied with a distant look in his eye, "My wife is from Ohio."
FROM THE DANCE MAGAZINE "DANCING USA": WEDDING DANCE BLUES
Regarding the article "How to Plan Your Wedding Dance", students are advised to start lessons up to six months ahead of the wedding date. This is clearly the best time frame to allow the couple to prepare their dance in the least stressful atmosphere possible and maybe get the chance to try some dancing socially so they feel more relaxed and confident on the "Big Day".
It is unnecessary for a couple to change their song because it is not a strict tempo or a particular rhythm. Nor is it even necessary to take dance lessons ahead of time in order to lead a happy life afterwards.
On the other hand, a glance at the message boards from several wedding sites available on the Internet offers this interesting fact. In response to the question "What Would You Have Done Differently at Your Wedding?", at one site there were 427 responses and 207 included "we should have taken dance lessons." This conclusion was usually reached after the couples viewed their own wedding video or attended another wedding where the couple did take lessons.
The dance instructor should not choose the song. Instead it is up to the couple to pick the music, then allow the instructor to competently work with the music chosen whether it's a Foxtrot, Tango, Rumba, Viennese Waltz, Slow Waltz, Swing, or Slow Dance.
It is also recommended the length of the dance be tailored to the comfort level of the wedding couple. Most people find it incredibly intimidating to be the only couple on the floor with all eyes upon them. Few people outside the world of competitive dancing realize how long three minutes can be in that situation. I have personally heard more than one wedding couple say, "I thought that song would never end." And yes, I have attended weddings where, after the first 30 seconds of watching a couple rock back and forth, and all the oohs and aahs have subsided, wonder "when will this song end?"
The advice is to put dance lessons in the "Wedding Timeline" at the earliest opportunity.
VOCABULARY WORD OF THE MONTH WITH JANE DOWNS - CASUISTRY
Casuistry - noun 1.Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead. 2. The determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analyzing cases that illustrate general ethical rules.
In terms normal people can understand, casuistry in its nice sense is the study of ethics, but in its more common dark sense, it is the use of tricky explanations to justify dubious actions. Think of some of Bill Clinton's rationalizations regarding pot smoking, avoiding the draft, missing and reappearing Whitewater documents, or 'I did not have sex with that woman' for textbook examples of 'casuistry'.
HOLIDAY EMAIL BLUES
Contributed by Sylvia Tucker
On the twelfth day of Christmas, some eejit sent to me:
12 chain letters
11 urban legends
10 special offers
8 virus hoaxes
6 weird petitions
5 ooooooolllld liiiiiinnnks!
4 corny jokes
2 Chinese spams
and a megabyte of JPGs!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST THE SSQQ COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH
Yes, yes, yes, I know. This is your favorite section of the Newsletter. And yes, we did have some juicy complaints this month.
But it is Christmas.
I will offer two complaints next month to make it up to you.
Good will to all Mankind. Peace, Love, and Prosperity to all of you in 2002!
SSQQ WEBSITE PROBLEMS SOLVED
For the last two months of 2001, we had one web site problem after another. Earlier this month we completed our move to a new server called Crystal Tech. The improvement was instantaneous. The address stays the same: www.ssqq.com
You may have noticed a new look to our front page. We are currently redesigning the site slowly but surely. We are regrouping some of our pages. For example, I noticed four different pages dealing with "Registration" and decided to consolidate them. As a result, don't be surprised if some of the links don't work; please report them to us so we can fix them faster.
SSQQ WEBSITE IS ONE IN A MILLION!!
Did you know the SSQQ Web Site is one of the most visited dance studio web sites on the Internet? I did a recent web search on the Google Internet Search Engine and entered the words "dance studio" (http://www.google.com/). Out of 959,000 entries on January 17, 2002, SSQQ Dance Studio was in the 3rd spot. Not bad. Do you think it is my poetry?
FEBRUARY SCHEDULE OF SSQQ DANCE CLASSES.
Our new February dance semester begins Sunday, February 3.
We are well aware that the above date conflicts with Super Bowl Sunday, but obviously this game will be a rout with the Rams easily beating the Patriots. Nevertheless if you decide to watch the game, you can always switch to a parallel class later in the week. After the game becomes hopeless, you can always come for the second hour on Sunday or if all else fails simply start the following Sunday in Week 2. You can join at the same time as all the other Super Bowl truants. Rams 45, Patriots 7. Yawn.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FEBRUARY 2002 SCHEDULE
1. February marks the return of the legendary Lindy Hop, America's first Swing dance. Taught by Gloria Sanchez, this special course assumes you can already Swing dance and are ready to make your move up to join the Swing elite. Learn the new timing, the unique styling, all the clever footwork, and discover why Lindy is so much fun!
2. Judy Archer brings back her rare and special 4-week class on Advanced Twostep and Polka on Sunday afternoons 4:30 pm. Drawing on Ballroom/Foxtrot background, Judy has several intricate and unusual patterns to teach.
3. At 7 pm on Sundays Judy begins her Intermediate Western Waltz classes. Waltz is of course the classic Western dance of Romance, but trickier to learn than people realize..
4. Slow Dance and Romance is one of our most unusual courses. Taught by Jill on Mondays, you learn the Lost Art of Formal Dance. Foxtrot, the Walking Slow Dance, and the Rhythm-Switch Slow Dance are invaluable to know at certain special times...
5. Zoot Suit Riot 1 on Mondays starts a new Super-Advanced Swing series with Judy.
6. Ghost Town 10 is a new Ghost Town level taught by Rick Archer on Wednesdays at 7 pm. Assume that all the easy Ghost Town moves are already in some other level and all that is left are patterns too frightening to imagine. Therefore this course is not for the meek of heart. Therefore be ready to be challenged.
7. Martian Whip began a new era in January. The initial reaction was very favorable to the new format. This class combines the super talents of State Whip Champions Ted Jones & Margie Saibara with the fabulous women's WCS footwork of Joanne Spuck. Thursdays will cover advanced styling techniques for both men and women in the first hour along with adv patterns taught by Rick Archer in hour 2. Then on Friday there will be a review of Thursday in the first hour followed by difficult patterns in the 2nd hour. Sign up for either night and get the 2nd night at no extra charge.
Let me add that Martian Whip had over 70 people sign up in January, an unheard of total. We also have gotten several very nice compliments on the new format. Here are two from last week's class:
Scott - "This was my first time tonight. When I saw how much stuff we were going to cover, I said 'no way'. I am amazed at the amount of material we covered and at the number of people who got the hang of it."
Laura - "Oh good, I danced so hard tonight now I can go home, eat ice cream and not feel guilty."
8. SSQQ's toughest Western Swing class, Death Valley, returns on Fridays in February with Heartbeat Coach Susie Merrill, expect lots of tough patterns & the latest in 'western dance technique' from Susie every week, then stay for the big Friday night Western dance afterwards at the studio.
FEBRUARY SSQQ PARTIES
THE SSQQ RED AND WHITE VALENTINES PARTY - Saturday, February 9, 9:15 pm - Midnight $7
Crash Courses 7-9 pm
WALTZ (the Dance of Romance) - Judy
SLOW DANCING! - Jill (cpls only)
ADVANCED SALSA - Andrew C
SWEETHEART SWING PTNS - Lise
CAROLINA SHAG - Gloria
Music Swing in Room 1, Latin and requests in Room 4
Wear Red and White and Dance All Night!
THE SSQQ HONKY TONK WESTERN PARTY - Saturday, February 23, 9:15 pm - Midnight $7
BEG WESTERN SWING - Kimberly
BEG WESTERN CHA CHA - Anita
SYNCHRONIZED POLKA - Amanda
DEATH VALLEY - Linda
BEG WHIP - Rick
The original idea was to dress like you are going to Gilley's, but no one seems to have clothes that ugly any more, so wear whatever you want and just bring your dancing feet.
Music Western, Swing, and Waltz in Room 1, Whip/West Coast in Room 4
Dress Tough or You Won't Dance Enough
TODAY'S NEWSLETTER TRIVIA QUESTION - WHAT IS A 'CRUCIVERBALIST'?
ANSWER AT THE BOTTOM OF THE NEWSLETTER
YES, ON-LINE REGISTRATION AT SSQQ IS SECURE
I was told by a student recently that they were worried whether the transactions were 'Secure' or not. So I asked David Schroeder about it. He wrote back:
Thu 01/10/2002 2:28 PM
"Rick, Yes, the Online Registration is secure.
When a user gets to Steps Two and Step Three he is told that. And when he presses Submit on Step Three he is warned about it. Step Two text - "All credit card information is encrypted using our Secure Transaction Server." Step Three text - "Secure Credit Card Transaction Processing" with accompanying logo of "eProcessing Network - Secure Transaction Processing"
(Editor's Note: I might add that we had over 200 people use On-Line Registration in January, a new record. This accounts for about 20% of all registrations. I have yet to receive word of even one problem. The only complaint so far is that people occasionally want to change their mind about what they registered for. Unfortunately this problem can only be handled at walk-in registration. On-Line Registration is best for those who are pretty sure what they want to take.)
FEBRUARY JOKE OF THE MONTH
Contributed by Chris Holmes
Several cannibals were appointed as engineers in a defense company.
"You're all part of our team now," said the boss during the welcoming ceremony. "You can earn good money here, and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, so please don't trouble any of the other employees."
The cannibals promised.
Four weeks later the boss returned and said, "You're all working very hard and I'm very satisfied with all of you. However, one of our janitors has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to him?"
The cannibals all shook their heads no. After the boss has left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others, "Which of you idiots ate the janitor?"
A hand raised hesitantly, to which the leader of the cannibals replied, "You fool!! For four weeks we've been eating Team Leaders, Consultants, Supervisors and Project Managers and no one noticed anything, and YOU had to go and eat the janitor!"
JOKE PICTURE OF THE MONTH
We have been unable to update this feature for two months due to our web site problems, but this month we are back with a passion! Making up for lost time I printed three new gems.
February's picture is an affectionate jest at our President. I was directed to it by Marion Sarmiento.
January's picture is a bizarre message sent to a deceased friend. It is a doozy of a picture! It was contributed by Bett Sundermeyer.
And December's picture is a Hall of Fame picture contributed a couple of years ago by SSQQ Instructor Gillian Tilbury that I resurrected from the Archives. You cannot fail to crack up at this picture. It depicts a powerful counterattack in the proverbial endless Battle of the Sexes. Enjoy!!
SSQQ COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH
Yes, folks, I cruelly discontinued this much beloved section of the SSQQ Newsletter for the Holidays out of respect for the Season of Goodwill to Mankind. Several of you clearly were not in the Holiday Spirit. One person after another stopped me to complain about no complaints. However it is a new year now so it's time to let the dirt fly again.
Here are three letters to read: a complaint, a letter from a witness to the event, and my own response.
Thu 12/06/2001 1:02 AM
I would like to share with you the humiliation I went through at SSQQ. It was about 8:30 PM in class when I was rudely disturbed while attending a class by a person claiming to be an employee of SSQQ.
Most of all, I have no idea what provoked him to pick on me from all the people in the classroom. During the second half, while I was making a name tag, we struck a conversation and he started asking me if I am registered for this class or not, apparently he did not see me before or whatever his rationale was. I thought he was joking asking such a question. Anyway, I told him I signed up for this class and two step and then left to join the class.
About ten minutes later, while I was in the middle of dance and in front of everybody this gentleman marches towards me and told me that my name is not on the roster and I had to leave. Although was holding the registration in one hand and he did not bother to look over. He stood next to me and said, "you are not on the roster and you need to leave." He implied that I am like a thief in the grocery store for coming without paying for it.
I don't know if you ever had been accused of cheating or kicked out of an institution or called a cheat or a thief in front of an audience in a restaurant, studio, grocery store or anywhere. It is humiliating to go through such a process in front of many of your colleagues. As a banker and a very conscientious person, I hold myself in a very high ethical standard. It was a nightmare and none of your clients should go through this. I had a problem sleeping wondering if I would ever run into the people again and wondering what would they think of me if they see my face again.
I am baffled, disturbed and hurt by this episode. You are the boss and so you should know what happened.
(Email Letter to Rick Archer from a student who witnessed the event.)
Wednesday, December 05, 2001 10:37 AM
I dropped in early last night for dance practice, and I was the unfortunate witness to a confrontation outside the studio with a disgruntled person.
Since I was early, I could not enter the studio and was within earshot of the event. There was an individual arguing vehemently with the Hall Monitor (I assumed the discussion was regarding his removal from the class). He was obnoxious and abrasive, and the Hall Monitor tried patiently to explain to him the policies regarding proof that he had signed up for the class. He kept demanding that the Hall Monitor accompany him to his car to show him the receipt. The Hall Monitor wisely told him he could not leave the studio, but he would await his return. This individual later returned, went in to the intermediate class and started a ruckus that the Hall Monitor had unfairly removed him. I considered this to be totally inappropriate behavior.
Personally I thought the Hall Monitor handled the situation with great composure and respect.
Email Letter from Rick Archer to the Complainant
Mon 12/10/2001 3:12 PM
I have now reviewed carefully four documents: Your report, the Hall Monitor's report, an instructor's report, and that of a student who witnessed the incident.
I am sorry you were embarrassed.
However you need to see things from my studio's point of view. Our Hall Monitor program was established 18 months ago to reduce a huge number of people from wandering around the studio who were showing up and claiming they were a volunteer. The situation had become a real headache. Since this policy was established, things have become much more organized.
Now the Hall Monitor is paid to do a job - ask people for their receipt. You didn't have one.
Then he or she is supposed to look your name up on a roster. Your name did not appear on one of the rosters.
Furthermore, the Hall Monitor said you made the comment that you are being given free classes. Whether you were jesting or not, this made you seem even more suspicious.
Finally, you naively think someone who has never met you in his life should take your word for it that you paid when it is his job to do the exact thing he did - prevent you from participating without simple documentation.
I do not enjoy the report of this confrontation at all, but please help me understand why I should criticize the Hall Monitor when on the surface it appears he was simply trying to do his job.
Look, I am not happy that you were embarrassed. Our studio is about having fun, not pushing people around.
However we have to have rules. You did not produce a receipt as requested and your name wasn't on the roster. Whether his style was to your liking or not isn't the question - I am sorry the Hall Monitor rubbed you the wrong way, but the fact remains that this person did what he was hired to do.
Please forgive the incident and forget about it. You are a nice guy. You are always welcome here.
(Editor's Note: This incident was so aggravating to me that I have decided to invest $10,000 in a new computer system designed to upgrade the SSQQ Registration process. Starting in March - or April if necessary - we will use computers for walk-in registration. Combined with our already successful On-Line Registration system, this will allow us to have a computerized recording of all class rosters. This will hopefully prevent incidents such as the one above from happening again.)
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF DANCE ETIQUETTE
Written and contributed by SSQQ Instructor Rachel Seff
1. Slither only people you know.
2. Thou shall not slither with a sweaty neck.
3. Thou shall not slither a women if she has already declined a previous follow-through.
4. Do not criticize or correct your partner's moves.
5. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
6. Leave the teaching to the instructors.
7. Let the man lead. 'Follow' may be an 'F' word, but it isn't a bad word.
8. It is ok to say 'no thank you' to a dance invitation, but it means you must sit out for that entire song.
9. Use deodorant.
10. Altoids should be your best friend.
(Editor's Note: Rachel is a published author and has a PhD from A&M. In addition as you can see from her writing she lives life on the sassy side. I really admire her 10 Commandments!)
ITEMS IN THE NEWS - HARROWING 911 CALL SPOTLIGHTS MOSCOW FAILINGS
Since many of you actually work for a living - which is a good thing - I worry perhaps that it is difficult for you to have the time to carefully peruse each item in the daily news in search of gems.
Since you support me through your wonderful job efforts, I feel the need to return the favor and keep you posted on stories your diligence may have caused you to miss.
Since I work evenings, my most relaxed time of the day is in the morning. There is nothing I enjoy more than drinking coffee while turning the pages of the Chronicle looking for items you might miss. Here is an amazing story about a young Russian man who was suffocated then likely crushed beyond recognition while trapped in a garbage truck. Even more incredible is this happened despite one repeated cell phone call after another for help.
His body has not yet been found since it is probably buried somewhere beneath tons of garbage.
Jan. 27, 2002, 11:32PM
By JOHN DANISZEWSKI
Los Angeles Times
MOSCOW -- The young man was intoxicated but on his feet when he left a billiards hall early Jan. 9. He later awoke to find himself tumbling inside a moving garbage truck, dodging massive blades slowly grinding collected refuse into pulp.
For 23 minutes, according to a transcript of a series of calls made on his cell phone to Moscow's 911 rescue service operators, 25-year-old Taras Shugayev pleaded, cried and begged for help, saying he was being squeezed.
But the operators only advised him to alert the driver by banging from inside the truck, and no discernible action was taken by Moscow's various police forces.
According to one rescue service spokesman, the operators dismissed the report as a prank.
"Are you in a joking mood to be calling us like this at 6 o'clock in the morning?" a police dispatcher reportedly said.
By his FOURTH call, during which the rescue service appeared focused mainly on trying to learn who might have put him into the truck, Shugayev was desperate.
"This is it, I think, I am suffocating. This is it," were the last words recorded.
Police didn't respond until more than 24 hours later, when the youth was reported missing by his family. They retrieved his phone records, and, with the help of the rescue service recordings, pieced together what might have happened.
Now they are sifting through a suburban dump, looking for possible remains.
Shugayev's case, which came to public notice in Moscow newspapers last week, has sparked a criminal investigation and thrown an uncomfortable spotlight on the callous indifference that can mark everyday life in this often harsh city of 9 million people.
Was Shugayev stuffed into a garbage bin by muggers who prey on drunks? Did some acquaintance throw him into a garbage truck as a practical joke? Were the people at the other end of the line too jaded, busy or tired to respond to the possibility that a life was in danger?
"I simply don't know who to blame," Shugayev's shaken father, Boris, said.
Police expert and crime writer Marina Alexeyeva said, "This horrendous story demonstrates once again that life is stranger than fiction, especially in Russia."
She added, "Only in Russia could they hire complete lunatics and plain idiots to work in such a critically responsible agency as the rescue service, just because they pay their operators peanuts.
"The man is dying. He is calling the only people who can and should save him, and in return he is bombarded with the most stupid and immediately irrelevant questions -- like who put him there and how can they get in touch with them."
Natalia Kochergina, a spokeswoman for the rescue service, said the investigation was continuing but asserted that her records show that the operators involved notified police within three minutes, as required. A traffic police spokesman disputed that account, saying the police have no log entry showing they were ever alerted.
"All the necessary phone calls were made. There is no doubt about it," Kochergina insisted. "The problem is that at 6 a.m., the police simply treated this report as a joke."
In incomplete transcripts published in the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the caller reports his situation at 6:20 a.m. and is asked to explain how he got into the truck and then to say where the truck is heading.
"I am being turned and twisted here, but I am still alive. Please call the traffic police," he pleads.
The call breaks off. A minute later, a different operator answers the second call and asks again where he is.
"How am I supposed to know?" he answers. "It is totally dark in here."
The operator tells him to take matters into his own hands: "Can you identify your presence, so that the driver would stop the truck and help you out of it, young man? Have you got something to knock with? Where is the driver?"
"He can't hear me. I have found out already that he can't hear me!"
The call disconnects again, and by the third phone call, at 6:31 a.m., the operator begins to sound irritated with the caller for not trying harder to alert the driver.
"I have nothing to knock with! I am being squeezed!" the caller explains.
The operator replied, "Your hands are free since you have been able to dial the number. Find something in the garbage."
During the final call, starting at 6:35 and ending at 6:43, the operator persists in asking who played this "trick" on him: "Can you remember your friends' telephone number? We will find out in a second where you are."
The caller isn't heard from again.
Anatoly Galibin, the driver of the state-of-the-art Mercedes garbage truck that police suspect was involved, said he would have thought it improbable that anyone could have been dropped into his truck from a garbage bin.
He agreed, however, that if someone were covered by garbage, it might have gone unnoticed. And any cries for help wouldn't have been heard.
"If he was really inside and no one came to the rescue, he was doomed," concluded Galibin, who blames police. He said his truck passed right in front of several traffic posts and a police station.
"The police usually know which trucks work where, and they could have easily tracked us down if they had wanted to," the driver said. "They could have saved the guy."
Alexeyeva, a former police colonel, said she also is outraged.
"It all goes to show," she said, "that the life of a human being still doesn't interest anybody in charge in this country."
HINTS FROM HELOISE - THE STORY OF THE MYSTERIOUS LEAKING SSQQ COOLER
The SSQQ Newsletter strives to be a complete newspaper. One item that has been missing so far is a column on helpful hints. Here are some thoughtful uses for Coca Cola.
Are you a Coca Cola drinker? The next time you ingest a cool refreshing Coke consider these alternate applications:
1. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the bowl. Let sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china.
2. To remove rust spots from chrome: Rub with a crumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.
3. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.
4. To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in Coke to the rusted bolt for several minutes.
5. To bake ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan; wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before the ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing drippings to mix with the Coke for gravy.
6. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains.
Editor's Note: Here is my personal story about the magic of Coca Cola.
From time to time I am asked about the glamour of owning a big famous dance studio. Well, those of you who have been around the block a couple times know running a business is not always as glorious as other people think it is.
For example, one of my less pleasant activities involves cleaning out the drink cooler. We currently have a brand new cooler, but the previous one stuck around for about ten years. The old cooler probably should have been put out to pasture sooner than it was since it had a major drainage problem. It was a good thing I cleaned the cooler since no one else on earth was stupid enough to do it. This surprises me because it was such a highly rewarding activity. I would make about $3 from all the change that had fallen to the bottom. Those nickels and dimes really start to add up!
What I haven't told you is that no one wanted the money for a good reason - it was buried under a pond of slime at the bottom because the drainage hose would get clogged up. Even my desperate-for-money kid wouldn't help me. I would tell Sam all she had to do was pick the coins up off the bottom and it was all hers, but one look at the slime and she vanished.
The problem was caused by an inconsistent thermostat. Once in a while a few cans at the bottom would freeze. They would swell up and out would explode an icy coca cola mush. Once out of the can, the coke mush would melt and head toward the drain. However as it drained the sugary liquid was too thick and it tended to slowly clog up the drainage tube. Once the liquid could no longer drain, it would stay on the bottom of the cooler to create a slimy muck....etc etc. Do you get the picture here or should I write more descriptively?
To prevent this from happening I had to unclog the drainage hose periodically. I found the fastest way to clean out the hose was to put it to my mouth and blow real hard
out came the muck!! Such fun! Do you want me to write more about this part? Let me know.
Normally when the hose was clear, the sugary syrup would drain to pan under the cooler. One day about two years ago after cleaning the hose, I noticed the drainage pan was caked almost to capacity with dried sugary residue.
Coca Cola becomes pitch black and crunchy liked caked sand when it dries. I decided to clean the pan for the first time ever. I found most of the crunchy gook softened with soapy water and just washed out. I was able to scrape the crustiest part off with a kitchen knife. Little did I know that cleaning the pan for the first time was actually 'ruining' it. I would find this out soon enough.
After the pan was clean, I put it back underneath the cooler. I ran water through the cooler to make sure the hose was back on correctly and the pan was set right. I was irritated to see water run to the floor. This obviously meant I didn't put the pan back right. So I did it again, but there was still more water on the floor after my second drainage test. So I adjusted it again and again and again - four times in all, but the water just kept dripping like there was nothing there to catch it!
Finally I got down on my hands and knees to see what was wrong. To my amazement I saw the water drip right THROUGH the pan as if it wasn't even there! Earlier I thought I simply had not put it back in right, but now I saw the water passing directly through the pan.
Baffled, I took the mysterious pan outside. I held it up to the sun. Tiny rays of sunlight revealed a hundred pin-prick holes in the pan where Coke Acid had eaten through solid metal. These holes were invisible to the naked eye unless you looked for them very carefully. Mind you, this was thick metal it had eaten through!!
Do you believe we drink this stuff? I love Coca Cola! But if you ever see water dripping out of my belly while I teach class, go get me some silicone juice in a hurry. I wouldn't want to miss a day without some sweet battery acid remover in my stomach.
A TOUGH BUSINESS QUESTION
Submitted by Pat Roberts
The owner of a golf course in Gainesville was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his college-educated secretary for some mathematical help.
He called her into his office and said, "You graduated from the University of Florida, right? Help me out here. If I were to give you $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?"
The secretary thought a moment, then replied, "Everything but my earrings."
THE VENUS MARS OBSERVATION FOR FEBRUARY
Contributed by Patty Jones
1. The nice men are ugly.
2. The handsome men are not nice.
3. The handsome and nice men are gay.
4. The handsome, nice and heterosexual men are married.
5. The men who are not so handsome, but are nice men, have no money.
6. The men who are not so handsome, but are nice men with money think women are only after their money.
7. The handsome men without money are after a woman's money.
8. The handsome men, who are not so nice and but at least heterosexual, don't think we are beautiful enough.
9. The men who think a woman is beautiful, that are heterosexual, somewhat nice and have some money, are often shy.
10. But women never find out they are shy because the men who are somewhat handsome, somewhat nice and have some money and thank God are heterosexual, are too damned afraid to MAKE THE FIRST MOVE!!!!
11.The men who never make the first move automatically lose interest in women when they take the initiative.
NOW ....WHO IN THE HELL UNDERSTANDS MEN?
DEAR ABBY: SPEAKING OF MEN, A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
The following email was sent to me on Tue 11/20/2001 9:24 AM
"If you haven't already received love letters for the gentlemen who replied to the Complaint of the Month in your December newsletter on Tuesday, October 30, 2001, let me be the first! He sounds like a dream dancer! (*smile*) As one who loves to learn new moves even before I learn them in class, I would love to get a chance to dance with this guy (although I may already have!) Plus, any man that writes that long of an explanation must be great marriage material! (LOL!)
I want a name, description, phone number, and blood type! (*wink*)"
(Editor's Note: We keep all of our Newsletters around for a year. If you wish to read the response this young
and (may I say)
very beautiful lady is referring to, visit the December Newsletter at http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/newsdec.htm Scroll down to the section titled 'Here Are Some of the Responses'.
The gentleman's letter is dated Tuesday, October 30, 2001. It starts like this, "Hey Rick, I was just perusing the news letter and a few comments popped into my head. Actually what started this was your "Complaint of the Month". I just wanted to let you know that you can tell that nice lady that she can come back to Thursday's Whip Practice Night without fear in November because I will be there for her to dance with, if she doesn't mind dancing with someone just barely out of Intermediate. She'll be safe from "Criticism and Correction" because I don't feel it is my place to correct anybody on the Dance Floor."
I might add this gentleman was responding to comments in the November Newsletter where women complained about how men made them miserable out on the dance floor.
THANK YOU, GARY
Gary Richardson is my friend who owns TFW Computers. He has built over 10 computers for me over the past 5 years. For example, Gary built and designed the computer system that plays our music at Practice Night and parties.
One thing I really appreciate is that Gary sends all of his customers warnings about new viruses. Yesterday I got a warning from him regarding the "Photos from my Party Virus". In his email Gary strongly recommended updating my virus protection immediately, so I immediately did so. One hour later I got hit with an email containing the exact virus he warned me about, but it was harmless thanks to my virus protection.
This isn't the first time this has happened. Since Gary is "in the business", he usually hears about new viruses before the rest of us and passes on a heads up to the rest of us. If you would like to be added to his virus warning list, email Gary at Grichardson@houston.rr.com
DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT
By the way, Gary tells me some of you Newsletter Readers have been blaming his computers for the SSQQ Web Site problems. Let me tell you, it ain't his fault. The company I had - Huge Hosting - was pathetic. Believe it or not, I got an email from Huge Hosting today that you have to read. Here is an excerpt:
"Dear Valued Customers:
As you may know, Huge Hosting acquired the hosting assets of Verado Holdings Inc. this past October. The purchase included the following operating systems: SlipNet, Sirius, Transport Logic, Internet Express, Hypercon, Firstworld, and Fastlane.
To be perfectly honest, each system was in dire need of a major upgrade in most aspects including technical components, network platforms, and the billing systems. I have never before witnessed such neglect in a business platform, and this reality took us by surprise. I sincerely regret the impact many customers experienced this past month."
(Editor's Note: What a bunch of BS. My web site worked just fine until Huge Hosting took over. It was so bad they had no tech support on weekends or after 5 pm. During the day, you had to leave a voice message to get tech support. "We are currently busy helping other customers. Leave your name and number and the nature of your problem
What does that tell you? This company was so screwed up, they couldn't even bill people properly!! Read this from an earlier email: "During the month of November as we began to update the billing system acquired with the customer base, we were unable to apply charges to our customers whose service is billed by credit card. These are charges that would normally be associated with your service for December."
The last line of today's letter was great: "If you no longer have an account with us, please let us know
LETTER TO THE EDITOR - RE THE SSQQ WEB SITE PROBLEMS
Thu 12/27/2001 9:17 AM
Rick - about your comment in the Jan 2002 newsletter: "Lately I have felt too stupid to own a computer". Don't.
Remember that the computer industry boomed thru the 1990's - and is now many times the size it was ten or fifteen years ago. This isn't just dollars GDP - it's people, experience, and complex technology. Briefly - the vast majority of the people in the industry today knew little or nothing at all about computers 10 years ago. This isn't just you - this applies to your (soon-to-be-ex) web hosting company also. I can vouch for the fact that the technology is enormously more complex - I started in the business in 1979. If I had any idea what was going to happen to computers, I probably would have kept that job at the garden shop. Every week I run into someone with a horror story like yours - and believe me, you're getting' off easy! The only way things will get better throughout the industry is to do what you've just done - fire the incompetent companies and go with what works. (PS: what you described in the newsletter is called a "DNS" error and could/should have been fixed within minutes.) There are a lot of places in Houston (and other towns) selling computers parts and services cuz it has a better profit margin than used cars or mattresses or vinyl siding or local/long distance phones. Not to slam those businesses - but computers are the most complex machinery ever invented by humans, and there are business people who think they can sell it like a commodity. Typically, they "trim costs" by dumping the experienced people, buying the cheap equipment, etc, you know the drill.
In a complex industry, this doesn't work in the long run. Look at HMOs to see what commodity-brokering can do to a complex technological industry.
Much of the dot-bomb was caused by reality stepping in and correcting this misperception of the bizniz wizkids. What happened to www.ssqq.com was simply a ricochet, a sort of "collateral damage".
As you've discovered, staying online means you gotta stay on top of your technology, and react fast when things go south. This doesn't mean you're stupid - it means you're gutsy enough to get into the fight in the first place. I'm sure you're aware that there's lotsa biznizzez out there about your size that aren't even brave enough to get on the web.
Don't be discouraged by net snafus - just remember: The meek may inherit the earth, but only after the rest of us are through with it.
Senior Engineer (NASA)
(Editor's Note: Bless your heart. This letter could not have come at a better time when it did. Thank you, Scott.)
SSQQ STAFF BIOGRAPHIES ON THE WEB SITE
I have had one request after another to list thumbnail pictures and bios of the SSQQ Staff Members. Now that the web site is fixed, Jill Banta has been working pretty hard to get this new location up and running.
Currently there are about 8 biographies listed, but I have another 10 in my email box that will go up pretty darn soon.
Let me know what you think about this new feature. ( email@example.com ) Any suggestions will be appreciated!
SSQQ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS PAGE (FAQs) ON THE WEB SITE
If you have visited the new SSQQ Web Site lately, you may have noticed several changes. One page I am working hard on is our Questions Page.
So here is my question to you - Do you have a question you would like answered about the studio? This is a great time to ask it because I am working on this FAQ page tomorrow. Ask and you shall be answered. Do me a favor and bring it on! Thanks.
DANCING IN THE REAL WORLD - LONGHORN AND CITY STREETS
Surprise, Surprise, here is actually a note about Dancing in this month's Newsletter. Imagine that.
If you are new to the studio, every Tuesday SSQQ meets at the Longhorn Saloon for Western dancing. The floor is large, the music is generally pretty good, and the SSQQ crowd borders close to a 100 people at times. It is a great place to practice Western Swing, plus they have a lot of West Coast music as well. The Longhorn is located in the Northwest Mall.
Let me add that if you are poor, there is an excellent free buffet at the Longhorn till about 7:30. If you have lost your shirt in worthless Enron stock, try dancing for food.
Thanks to SSQQ Instructors David and Susan Schroeder, on Wednesdays City Streets sponsors Swing Dancing. I don't know much about it since I work that night, but you can email David for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org City Streets is on Richmond one block outside the Loop.
SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE CONGRATULATIONS TO:
SSQQ dance students Jerry Moore and Vicki Bara have announced their engagement! Actually, there is an amazing story behind this engagement shared with me by Leroy Ginzel (thank you very much!)
Vicki is a school teacher in the Clear Creek Independent School District. One day just before school was out, she was paged through the public announcement system and told to go immediately to the gym. She went reluctantly. She rolled her eyes thinking one of her students had done something wrong.
When she opened the double doors to the gym, she gasped as she saw a red carpet stretched across the gym floor with rose petals strewn on it. At the end of the carpet was Jerry Moore in his cowboy boots, a western tux and cowboy hat. He got down on one knee holding a rose in one hand and a ring in the other hand.
Astonished, Vicki walked down the carpet to Jerry where he proposed to her in front of the whole school. After she accepted with an overwhelmed mixture of smiles and tears, Jerry whisked her away to a secret location in a limousine waiting outside the gym.
I have to say, when people talk about 'Style', I would imagine this maneuver rates right up there.
However things aren't all perfect. From what we gather, all the other single female teachers at the school have been giving her a hard time ever since. Too damn bad. Get over it. Tell them to move over to SSQQ and find their own man.
Congratulations, Vicki and Jerry!
(Editor's Note: As many of you may remember, SSQQ had an amazing total of 30 weddings and engagements back in 2000. We were on a pace to equal or exceed that total last year till something we now call 9-11 occurred. Here at SSQQ there has only been one more marriage in the 4 1/2 months since.
With Jerry and Vicki's announcement, I am glad people are getting brave enough to start planning for the future again.
I might add if you know of any SSQQ weddings or engagements, please report them immediately to gossip central at email@example.com Don't you agree no one is allowed to fall in love at our studio without the whole world being informed immediately?)
THE SSQQ GEOGRAPHY QUIZ
Speaking of 9-11, there isn't much that is funny about this tragic event, but I have seen a few weak stabs at humor. I am reminded of a dark humor quip from comedian Paul Rodriguez: "Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography."
Certainly most of us had no clue where Kuwait was before the Gulf War and thanks to the riveting movie "Black Hawk Down" I now know that Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia.
But 9-11 has definitely drawn attention to the most geographically ignored location on earth, the Stan Countries. Believe it or not, I actually wrote a story about the Stan countries a couple years ago and then last year I ran across a Dave Barry story about the Stan countries as well. You can read both articles if you are curious at http://ssqq.com/archive/geography.htm
My interest in Geography - which I recount in more detail in the article mentioned above - led me to publish my very own Geography Quiz on the SSQQ web site. You might be surprised at how many people from around the Internet actually visit the SSQQ web site to take the quiz
and praise it too!
This month's SSQQ Quiz is the infamous SSQQ Geography Quiz. If you have taken it before, please disqualify yourself (and I know who you are!). Yes, you can use the Internet and any resource you wish.
Best answer gets a free 4-week dance class in February. Everyone who submits a set of answers more intelligent than your average dog gets a free Practice Night in February for your effort. Plus I will publish the names and rankings of all the players in next month's Newsletter so everyone can see how smart you are!
Please note this quiz is not a walk in the park. Here are some of the more recent comments I have gotten about the SSQQ Geography Quiz:
Sat 01/26/2002 3:24 PM
Thank you very much for your prompt reply and the additional information on those geo questions that I missed. I'd be very interested to be a recipient of any other quizzes that might be forthcoming...................again, thank you, it was a good research test!
Regards, George Schuler
Tue 01/15/2002 2:33 PM
Dear Rick, Thanks so much for providing the quiz, and for your prompt, thoughtful, intriguing reply. I've since passed on the quiz link to several other people.
I enjoyed the quiz a lot. I am sort of a professional geographer, being a map maker. But we mostly make maps of the highways of Virginia--and it's fun to stretch once in a while. Thanks. David Patton
Mon 10/29/2001 7:31 AM
From Rick Archer to Marty Mazur
Nice work, Marty, on the geography quiz. By the way, I just noticed you teach at Penn State. I was born in Pennsylvania and all my aunts and uncles went to Penn State! Back when I was in college, we used to have some fun at family gatherings. I would root for the University of Texas and they rooted for Penn State during the famous bowl games back when Nixon was president. UT won the first game and I had a lot of fun at their expense, but then Penn State won the next year. Boo.
Mon 10/29/2001 10:31 AM
From Marty Mazur to Rick Archer
I actually don't teach here at Penn State. I work in a research lab. I've lived here long enough now (13 years) that I'm starting to think of myself as a Pennsylvanian.
I used to travel to Texas now and then on business when I worked in California. I spent some time in Houston and El Paso, not much in any of the other cities of your immense state. PS: Do you still have last year's geography quiz anywhere around? I enjoyed your first one a lot.
Okay, Sports Fans, here is the SSQQ Geography Quiz: http://ssqq.com/archive/vinlin08.htm
Email your answers by Friday, February 9, to be eligible for the free class prize. Good luck!
THE JANUARY SSQQ QUIZ - GREAT OPENING LINES REVISITED!
The December Microsoft Encarta Newsletter had a fabulous quiz on Great Opening Lines of Novels. Here is an example of the first question:
1. "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."
a) Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
b) Angels and Insects, A. S. Byatt
c) The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
d) Kiss of the Spider Woman, Manuel Puig
The following people - all of whom I hate - got a perfect score on the quiz:
Sylvia Tucker , Richard Kummins, Jane Downs, Alena Oetting, Dorian Myers, Letitia Taitte, and Marlane Kayfes.
Also doing very well on the quiz were: Angie Treinen, Gene Gilliam, and Maureen Brunetti
I might add everyone who took the quiz did better than I did. Last time this quiz gets offered. From now on I am only going to publish quizzes that allow me to feel superior to at least someone.
Thanks to all the above for playing even though I don't like you. Oh, the answer to the question above was Metamorphosis.
ANOTHER FEBRUARY JOKE - THE TWO BLACK EYES
Contributed by Chris Holmes
A man staggers into an emergency room with two black eyes and a golf club wrapped tightly around his throat. Naturally the doctor asks him what happened.
"Well, it was like this," said the man. "I was having a quiet round of golf with my wife when she sliced her ball into a pasture of cows. We went to look for it and while I was rooting around, I noticed one of the cows had something white at its rear end. I walked over and lifted up the tail and sure enough, there was my wife's golf ball...stuck right in the middle of the cow's butt. That's when I made my mistake."
"What did you do?" asks the doctor.
"Well, I lifted the tail and yelled to my wife, 'Hey, this looks like yours!'"
ONE GOOD JOKE DESERVES ANOTHER - MILKING THE COW
The joke above reminded me of one that Mike Gerstenberger sent me a year ago. Enjoy!
A farmer named Hank is sitting in the neighborhood bar getting soused. His best friend Jim wanders in and spots Hank.
"Hey, why are you sitting here on this beautiful day getting drunk?"
Hank replied, "Sometimes things happen that you just can't explain."
"Come on, Hank, So what happened that's so horrible?"
Hank shook his head. "You won't believe me, but here goes. Today I was sitting by my cow milking her. Just as I got the bucket about full, she took her left leg and kicked over the bucket."
Jim smiled, "Okay, Hank, that's a pain, but nothin' to get smashed over."
"Well, that's not all that happened."
Jim nodded, "Okay, so what happened then?"
Hank continued. "I took her left leg and tied it to the post on the left. And then I sat back down and milked her some more. Just as I got the bucket about full, she took her right leg and kicked over the bucket for the second time."
Jim smiled. "Again? No wonder you were mad. But still that's no big deal."
Hank shook his head. "There's more to the story."
Jim nodded, "So what did you do then?"
Hank said, "I took her right leg this time and tied it to the post on the right. Then I sat back down and began milking her for the third time. Just as I got the bucket about full, the stupid cow knocked over the bucket with her tail. At this point I have been milking her and tying her up for 30 minutes and I have nothing to show for it."
Jim nodded in sympathy. "Anything else happen?"
Hank went on, "Well, I knew she had at least another bucket left in her, but I didn't have any more rope. I decided to take off my belt and tie her tail to the rafter. Wouldn't you know it, my pants fell down at the same exact same moment as my wife walked in the barn!"
POLITICAL FORUM: MAYBE I AM NAΟVE
Would someone please explain to me why the media is beating the crud out of George Bush over the Enron Fiasco? I am having a hard time figuring out what Mr. Bush has done wrong.
RACHEL SEFF'S NIGHTMARE TRAVEL STORY OF THE MONTH
In last month's Newsletter, I mentioned there are horror stories everywhere regarding air travel. In fairness to the industry, I went skiing over Christmas and experienced nothing to complain about. I did however receive an interesting reply to my Newsletter article from Ms. Dance Etiquette herself. Enjoy.
Wednesday, December 19, 2001 4:49 PM
Rick - Loved the newsletter, as usual. Thought I'd share my own nightmare travel story with you.
I was flying back to Houston last month after a 4-day recruiting trip in Indiana. Knowing all of the new hassles with security, I got to the airport quite early. I passed the time by walking through all of the airport shops. One shop right by the entrance to the gates was Bath and Body Works. I love all of the yummy hand-lotion products, and so I put on a bunch of lotion. And I mean a bunch of lotion - hands, arms, elbow, face, etc. I then proceeded to walk through security. I go through the medal detector.
BEEP! My high heels set off the alarm. Shoes come off. Try again. BEEP. Security guys walks and runs a magic detector wand around my body (most men should be so lucky). It appears a wire in an undergarment is setting things off. Security guy acknowledges this quite loudly and lets me through. Whew, I thought. Thank goodness that's over. Nope, not yet. BEEP! Now my BAG goes off. (I only travel with carry-ons). Three green-beret army guys walk over to me and ask me to step aside. Apparently, my bag has tested positive for hazardous materials. Now the entire mass of people at the security gate is staring at me with eyes of suspicion. And I'm completely mortified. Hazardous materials?!? What did it test for? They army guy checks the scanner. T-N-T.
T-N-T?!? So they start opening my bags, which after a 4-day trip is full of dirty clothes and not packed very neatly. They go through each item and hold it up as if on display. Had I known I would be doing this, believe me, I would have packed much sexier items. Then they ask me all these questions. Who are you? Where do you work? Who do you know? Etc. All very non-eventful answers. Finally, one of them asks me about perfumes and lotions. Yes, I'm wearing perfume that I put on in the morning, and yes, I have on lots of lotion because I just lathered up with all of the Bath and Body Works stuff. Ahhhh, they say. Did you know that the most women's hand crθme contain glycerin? And what is the main ingredient in T-N-T?!?
(Editor's Note: When Rachel told me the story in person, she was smiling. Apparently the Green Berets were actually pretty decent with her considering the seriousness of the situation. Good for them! My guess is Rachel is too cute and too unthreatening to fit the typical terrorist profile.)
JOB ADVERTISEMENT - TRAVEL AGENT
Alan Fox, owner of the Vacations to Go, the travel agency that we used for last summer's cruise, sent me this:
"Just in case any of you know someone who is looking for a career change, the travel agency side of my company is growing and hiring sales people to sell cruises and tours. It's a straight commission job after the first 3 months, and all the customers call us about a deal they have seen on our Web site, www.VacationsToGo.com
The average agent makes $40k-50k, with a few in the $70--85k range. No experience is necessary, and there are good travel perks. If you know anyone that is interested, they can email me or fax me a resume, at 713-978-6003. Or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
JOB ADVERTISEMENT - MURDER MYSTERY HOST WITH LEISURE LEARNING
Ted Weisgal, the owner of Leisure Learning, asked me recently if I knew anyone who might be interested in hosting their popular Murder Mystery dinners. From the LLU catalogue:
"If suspense, mystery, intrigue, an opportunity to be in the action, a superb gourmet meal and the chance to meet new friends strike your fancy, attend one of these fabulous evenings of adventure. Singles and couples are invited to play this exciting Murder Mystery game where everyone is a suspect and only one character hopes the murder is not solved. To add to the fun of this evening, you're invited to come in costume for your role as a doctor, cheerleader, minister, journalist, model, actor/actress, ship captain, etc. The game begins right after the salad is served and continues throughout the evening."
If you don't feel like dancing for meals, try murder instead. Contact Ted if interested at 713-529-4414
JOB ADVERTISEMENT - SSQQ NEEDS A HIP HOP DANCE INSTRUCTOR
I get several calls a week for Hip Hop Dancing. If any of you readers can teach this stuff or know someone who can, I bet this would be a successful class! email@example.com
ITEMS IN THE NEWS - WIFE CHARGED WITH LYING TO THE FBI ABOUT HUSBAND
Here is yet another little story in the Chronicle I don't think any of you would want to miss out hearing about. Beware the wrath of a woman scorned, Chapter One Trillion and One. I have a suggestion, guys, tell your wife where you are going once in a while. Or at least give her your cell phone number.
January 10, 2002
By Rosanna Ruiz
A Houston woman was indicted recently on charges of making false statements to the FBI after she told agents her husband was a terrorist who received an email shortly before the September 11th New York attacks that included macabre images of a skull, an airplane, and the World Trade Center.
Authorities said Shahlah Jaffer Hussain, 39, was so furious with her husband, Fouad Esshassah, that she contacted the FBI four days after the terrorist attacks with her elaborate story.
She told FBI agents her husband received the email on September 8, and that he often entertained guests at their Houston apartment who she now recognized as men who resembled several terrorists at large who were wanted for questioning.
Hussain also claimed her husband had a Hamas symbol tattooed on his left arm, indicating his allegiance to the group responsible for many of the suicide bombings in Israel.
However FBI investigators failed to turn up one connection between the husband and terrorists, said Assistant US Attorney Jay Hileman. Checks of the man's email and his left arm also failed to support the wife's accusations.
Hussain was indicted on January 2. She faces up to 5 years in a federal prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted.
During a December 19 hearing, an FBI agent said the woman was upset with her husband because he left Houston for an extended period and did not leave word of his whereabouts.
VOCABULARY WORD OF THE MONTH - CRUCIVERBALIST
Submitted by Lesa Myers
Cruciverbalist (noun) - A crossword designer or enthusiast.
"In a suburban town in Connecticut, Cora Felton has some small measure of notoriety as the Puzzle Lady, reputed constructor of syndicated crosswords. The much married and generally alcoholic Cora, though, is a front for her niece Sherry, the real cruciverbalist."
(Editor's Note: I am a big Crossword Puzzle fan, so you know I really appreciated this one!)
WARNING - AT LEAST A HALF-DOZEN CARS OF SSQQ STUDENTS HAVE BEEN TOWED FROM THE
Without warning and without provocation, on February 7 Joel Loshack, owner of the Door Warehouse, decided to begin towing cars of SSQQ students parked in front of his store. Since then there have been at least five other cars towed and quite possibly more.
Do not park in front of Loshack's store and don't park on the side of it unless you are in the street (First Street).
What is sad about this man's behavior is that the warning sign is located in bushes to the side of the building in such an obscure way that an unsuspecting person would not even see it if parking at night. The setup appears to be a deliberate trap.
Furthermore his own customers use our parking lot during the day.
I have written much more about the entire story. Read it at:
MARCH SCHEDULE OF SSQQ DANCE CLASSES.
Classes begin the week of Sunday, March 3.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MARCH SCHEDULE.
March marks the return of the legendary LATIN HUSTLE, the famous Disco partner dance from Saturday Night Fever. Taught by Judy Archer, this special course hopes that you have already had Intermediate Swing dance or Beginning West Coast Swing since the pace of the class is swift. Learn the new timing, the unique styling, all the clever footwork, and discover why Latin Hustle is so much fun!
Gloria Sanchez teaches INTERMEDIATE LINDY HOP, America's first Swing dance, on Sundays at 4:30 pm. Lindy Hop is a tricky dance that is much loved by the Swing crowd.
On Sunday evenings at 7 pm Judy Archer brings back BEGINNING WESTERN CHA CHA, a very popular course which shows you how to dance Cha Cha to slow, romantic Western Polka music. Cha Cha is easy to learn and super fun to dance and flirt with!
The BEGINNG WHIP/WEST COAST SWING SUPERCLASS returns in March on Mondays and Thursdays. Whip & WCS are highly technical, impressive partner dances used to Disco, Blues, & Rock music. They are wonderful dances to tackle, but very tricky. At SSQQ, Whip & WCS is offered twice a week for 2 hours at a time. Progress is much swifter in this format. This explains why it is called the Superclass. Plus starting Whip/WCS in March will prepare you the famous Sleazy Bar Whip Party in April!
March is NIGHT CLUB TWOSTEP month at SSQQ. Not only does Sharon Crawford offer a fabulous Advanced level Night Club course on Wednesdays, but our PAJAMA PARTY on March 23 will offer a Susie Merrill Crash Course with original advanced Night Club patterns and there will be a Beginner Crash Course as well. Then we can spend the whole evening "Night Club" dancing in our Pajamas!! Sounds very romantic. Bring your pillows, PJs and Teddy Bears!
DEATH VALLEY LEVEL 3 returns on Fridays with Susie Merrill, coach of the SSQQ Heartbeat Western Dance team. This is a great chance to learn some tough, flashy new patterns & the latest in 'western dance technique' from Coach Susie, then stay for our popular Friday Night Western dance party to practice on the spot!
MARTIAN WHIP began a new era in January. After two months, the reaction to our new format has been very favorable. Thursdays cover advanced styling techniques for both men and women in the first hour. The second hour features advanced patterns taught by Rick Archer. Then on Friday there is a review of Thursday night's material in the first hour followed by completely different patterns in the second hour. Sign up for either night and get the 2nd night at no extra charge!
SSQQ DANCE PARTIES IN MARCH
THE SSQQ SAINT PATRICK'S DAY SWING PARTY
Saturday, February 9, 9:15-Midnight
Cover charge $7
CRASH COURSES 7-9 pm
CROWDED FLOOR SWING MOVES - Bryan Spivey
BLAME IT ON THE BOSSA NOVA - Judy Archer
BEG LINDY HOP - Gloria Sanchez
SINATRA BOX FOX - Maureen Brunetti
SHIM SHAM LINE DANCE & JITTERBUG STROLL! - Patty Or
WEAR SOME GREEN AND MAKE THE SCENE!!
Music Swing in Room 1 plus requests, Salsa in Room 4 plus requests.
(SSQQ TRIVIA QUESTION - It turns out one SSQQ Staffer was born on Saint Patrick's Day. First correct guess gets a free March Practice Night. One guess per person. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org )
THE FIRST EVER SSQQ PAJAMA PARTY AND LIP SYNC SHOW!!
Saturday, February 23, 9:15-Midnight
Cover charge $7 with Pajamas, $9 without
CRASH COURSES 7-9 pm
BEG C&W : TEXAS TWOSTEP - Carol
TWOSTEP CIRCLE TURNS - Mo
BEG NIGHT CLUB - Sharon
ADV NIGHT CLUB (brand new patterns!) - Susie
BEG WEST COAST SWING - Victoria
FLIRTIN' W YOUR FEET (WCS) - Anita (ladies only)
WEAR PAJAMAS OR STAY HOME WITH YOUR MOMMAS!
Music Western, Swing, Waltz, Night Club in Room 1, Whip and West Coast Swing in Room 4
The whole point of a Pajama Party is to wear Pajamas. We don't need Victoria Secret stuff. We just want good old fashioned Pajamas! Bathrobes will work too. Comfy warm-up outfits are okay in a pinch. Blue jeans and dresses are definitely frowned on.
The SSQQ Lip Sync Show is a funny takeoff on famous songs performed by SSQQ Staff members plus any student who wishes to participate. Although the skits are not always well rehearsed and the lines to the music occasionally flubbed, you might be surprised to find yourself laughing uncontrollably. These skits are pretty funny! If you have an idea for a skit, please email Rick Archer at email@example.com and join the Revue Crew!
THE SSQQ - LEISURE LEARNING 'DANCING IN THE DARK' CARIBBEAN CRUISE
August 25 - September 1
Travel Agent: Anne Adams, Vacations to Go
713 957 1705
SSQQ has scheduled a 7-night Caribbean Cruise on Royal Caribbean's 'Rhapsody of the Sea'. This year's trip will set sail the last week in August 2002. We will depart from Galveston for adventures to Key West, Belize, and Cozumel.
Last year SSQQ sponsored a cruise to Mexico that was a lot of fun, but also ran into some bad luck. On the plus side we took a staggering total of 101 people. Highlights included groups of 50 people dancing Salsa by day, Western and Whip at night, and plenty of poolside fun among the Lido Deck crowd. On the downside we weren't pleased with the dancing facilities. And the walls were a bit thin for some of our guests. But the biggest problem came when we ran into serious weather difficulties. We expected to visit Cozumel and Cancun, but Hurricane Chantal decided to meet us there at the same time. Our ship was diverted to another port at the last minute which explains how we ended up in Vera Cruz. Unfortunately Vera Cruz was not a popular destination and we were disappointed, but other than that the trip was generally well received.
There was plenty of dance and romance on the 2001 trip. With 101 guests - 3/5ths of them single - there were opportunities aplenty to court and spark. This year we travel on a ship that holds 2,400 people. The ship-wide estimate is that 2/5ths of the guests are single. You do the math. The chances for romance among 1,000 guests are pretty good for starters. Or if you prefer to stay within our own group there will likely be 100 unattached passengers. That is a lot of single people. On what do we base this prediction?
I honestly believe we can expect to shatter last year's impressive 100 mark. 200 is not out of the question. Maybe even more! Why? How?
For one thing, we are on a remarkable ship this year. The Rhapsody of the Sea is unbelievably luxurious! This boat, built in 1997, is breathtakingly beautiful. You absolutely must see the pictures on our web site to begin to understand just how gorgeous this ship is.
Second, this year the dancing will be much better because we have better dance floors. The dancing was fun last year, but we lacked a good place to dance as a group at night. The Rhapsody is designed to promote dancing. For example in February 2002 the Rhapsody of the Seas was chosen to host a Ballroom Dancing cruise specifically because of its large, beautiful dance floors. That Ballroom cruise trip drew several hundred people.
In particular the Rhapsody features the "Shall We Dance" Lounge. As its name suggests, this venue is dedicated strictly to Swing dancing, Ballroom dancing, and partner dancing to Top 40 music. Each night after dinner the Shall We Dance Lounge becomes a dance club complete with live ballroom dance and party music from 7:30 pm till 11 pm. (Note: there is also a Disco in another part of the boat.) This lounge is highly praised as a place that caters to 'sophisticated dancers'.
Other dance opportunities include rumors of a Sock Hop night as well as the fancy, upscale Captain's Welcome Aboard Party. My point is Royal Caribbean has the best reputation in the cruise industry for catering to people who like to dance the way we like to dance.
An important last minute development for this year has SSQQ combining energies with Leisure Learning Unlimited, our long-time business partner (22 years). Leisure Learning will participate jointly in promoting this trip in its catalogue and on its web site. With a distribution of 160,000 catalogues, it doesn't take much of an imagination to expect an increase in attendance. The number of people participating in this trip should easily exceed even last year's unbelievable total. Who would have thought 100 was possible last year? Well, this year promises to be even greater.
Depending on the number of passengers in our group, Leisure Learning will bring some of its most popular teachers along to conduct workshops during the day to supplement the SSQQ dance lessons. These dance lessons and workshops will of course be free.
And unlike last year's trip, there is a Card and Game Room dedicated to groups who want to play games. As a result this year we will have a Trivial Pursuits Match, a crazy game of Charades, a Scavenger Hunt, plus a team Jigsaw Puzzle contest that will become popular additions to the workshops, dance lessons, and late into the night slow dancing and romancing.
This year's trip is organized through Vacations to Go. VTG has handled our two previous trips in 1998 and 2001 with excellence. I personally priced this trip through two other travel agencies and can vouch without a doubt that Vacations to Go had the lowest bid. You have my word on this.
Anne Adams will be our coordinator again this year as well. Anne did a magnificent job organizing our vast number of passengers last year and did a great job of finding roommates for everyone as well.
And I am pleased to note that this year she has added a direct phone line to cut down on the phone tag!
In summary Royal Caribbean is the thoroughbred of Cruise Lines. They have an enormous reputation for excellence, entertainment, and opulence. Apparently they have nearly sold out a couple of their early summer cruises already and expect to sell every one of their 2,500 available spaces on this August cruise as well.
They are so confident that this trip will sell out that they will only hold our reservations till early April. This puts SSQQ in a definite "put up or shut up" position. This means we have to start getting some people to commit to the trip right away or our reserved space will be taken away from us.
Royal Caribbean's refund policy allows anyone to reserve a cabin by credit card for $250. This money is completely refundable as late as June 25th. I have worked with Vacations to Go now on two different trips and I have not heard one complaint about monkey business. If VTG says your deposit is completely refundable if requested before June 25th, then this is a fact.
If everyone waits for someone else to make the first move, you have missed the point. If you want to go, there is no risk to sign up now and relax while you see how the trip fills up.
In other words you can put down a deposit to hold your cabin for THREE MONTHS at no charge. There is no risk of losing your money, but there is a risk that we can lose our reservations if everyone waits till the last minute to make their move. Let me say this one more time: If you sign up now and something unexpected comes up, you have till June 25th to get your entire deposit back.
The sooner people climb on board, the sooner the snowball effect we saw last year will begin. And who knows? If everyone who is interested shows their hand quickly, maybe the snowball effect will turn into an avalanche. Or should I say tidal wave? Maybe not the best marketing slogan. Let's try this one instead: Get out of the closet and make a deposit.
In the meantime, if you have a general question about the trip, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For money questions, room descriptions, rates, and detailed stuff like that, you would be better off contacting Anne Adams.
Phone: 713 957 1705
I hope you will join us!
For more information about this year's cruise:
Story of Last Year's Cruise:
Pictures from Last Year's Cruise:
PICTURE JOKE OF THE MONTH - STARS WITHOUT MAKEUP!!
Contributed by Sylvia Tucker
"Without custom fit clothing, two hours with a hair stylist, three hours in the make-up chair, and computerized picture improvements to remove wrinkles and blemishes, even I don't look like Cheryl Tiegs most of the time." - Cheryl Tiegs, famous Sports Illustrated swim suit model of the 70s and 80s.
BATTLES OF THE SEXES SHE SAID - OBSERVATIONS OF MEN
Contributed by Anita Williams
How many honest, intelligent, caring men in the world does it take to do the dishes?
Both of them.
Why did the man cross the road?
He heard the chicken was a slut.
Why don't women blink during foreplay?
They don't have time.
Why does it take 1 million sperm to fertilize one egg?
They don't stop and ask for directions.
How does a man show that he is planning for the future?
He buys two cases of beer.
What is the difference between men and government bonds?
The bonds mature.
How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper?
We don't know; it has never happened.
Why is it difficult to find men who are sensitive, caring and good looking?
They all already have boyfriends.
What do you call a woman who knows where her husband is every night?
When do you care for a man's company?
When he owns it.
Why are married women heavier than single women? Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge.
What did God say after creating man?
Surely I can do better than that.
What did God say after creating Eve?
Practice makes perfect.
What is the one thing that all men at singles bars have in common?
Why are these jokes so short?
To make it easier for men to understand them.
BATTLE OF THE SEXES HE SAID - THE SHOPPING SPREE
Contributed by Donna Ruth and Carole Nelson
There is an old saying that Man is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished. When I met my future wife, her kisses left a lot to be desired -- the rest of her. I had to have her, but her reply had a certain ring to it: wedding ring or suffering.
"I am" is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Not long after the ceremony I stared to wonder if "I do" is the longest sentence. Our sex life changed immediately - my new wife began to act like she was in bed with a relative.
Since then I never have quite figured out why the sexual urges of men and women differ so much. I have definitely never figured out the whole Mars & Venus thing. Maybe the problem is food-related. In the beginning one bite of an apple started this whole mess. Now I will never figure out how a woman can go from a nymph to a nun after just one bite of wedding cake.
One evening a few months into the marriage, my wife and I were getting into bed. Well, the passion in me started to heat up. I made a move which to my surprise was blocked by her hand with jujitsu swiftness. Then I heard those chilling words dreaded by every warm-blooded man.
"Oh honey, I don't feel like it, I just want you to hold me."
I said, "WHAT?!"
My wife explained to me that lately I was not in tune with her emotional needs as a woman and that sometimes she needed a little space. I'm thinking, "I guess I know why the secret to a happy marriage is called a secret. I haven't got a clue."
"Can we talk about this?"
"Sure. But I'm really tired. Let's wait until morning."
I realized that nothing would happen that night. After some useless hugging that went nowhere, I turned over and went to sleep very horny and very frustrated. In the morning I definitely got up on the wrong side of the bed.
It seemed to me our talk consisted mainly about her deep-seated need to go shopping. Recently we had actually started to save money due to a strange quirk. Not long ago my wife's credit card had been stolen but I decided not to report it because the thief was spending less than my wife did. Just kidding.
Actually she did forget where she had put her credit card one day, but I was the one who found it and hid it from her. I stalled as long as I could, but finally she wheedled a promise we could use my card instead. This provoked an uncontrollable desire to use it soon. Soon as in NOW.
As part of our soul-searching talk, she asked me to take her to 'look at some clothes'. Oh sure. What's wrong with looking at clothes in the twenty catalogues sitting on the coffee table? That argument was met with an icy stare, so off we went.
I walked around while she tried on three very expensive outfits. I couldn't help but wonder if the disappointment from the night before was somehow linked to feelings of deprivation from the missing credit card. I decided to try an experiment. She couldn't decide which one to take, so I told her to take all three of them. Astonished, she immediately began to probe my limits.
She asked me for matching shoes worth $200 each to which I said, "OK." I was in a strange mood.
My wife was on a roll. She hurried to the Jewelry Department where she instantly fell in love with a set of diamond earrings. Let me say this ...she was so excited! She must have thought that my brain had turned to oatmeal, but I don't think she cared.
She was obviously still in a testing mood when she asked for a tennis bracelet. She doesn't even play tennis. Her reaction was almost sexual when I nodded yes. What the heck. She asked me to start carrying some of the loot. Do they have fork lifts for serial shoppers when you need it?
There was a frenzy about my wife that I hadn't seen since the wedding cake had given her sex poisoning. You should have seen the fire in her eyes! Maybe she was just trying to close the deal, but it was working. I was getting aroused just watching her excitement. Her voice dripped with promise as she whispered in my ear, "I'm ready to go! Let's pay for this stuff and hurry home!"
I knew my mouth had a death wish, but I could hardly contain myself as I blurted out, "No, honey. I don't feel like buying all this stuff now."
You should have seen her face ... it went completely blank. Then it went cold. To that I added, "Really, honey! Why don't you just HOLD this stuff for a while? We can save a lot of money if we pay cash up front later instead of charging it now. It would make me feel a lot better."
Just when she had this look like she was going to kill me, I added, "Part of a man's self respect is based in avoiding senseless financial debt. I hope you understand that spending money wisely helps me feel good about myself."
She stared at me and sized me up. Finally she blurted out, "You know, I was a fool when I married you."
I replied, "Yes, dear, but I was in heat and overlooked it."
After that remark the only sex we ever had again was Courtroom Sex. I learned the hard way this is where you get divorced and watch while you get screwed by your sex-ex in front of everyone.
RESULTS OF THE FEBRUARY SSQQ GEOGRAPHY QUIZ
In February, we had a Geography Contest.
Our winners were Robert Lynch (1st place), Viqar Anwar (2nd place), Melanie Johnson (3rd place), and Frank Evans (honorable mention). Robert and Vic turned in some of the best results I have ever seen while Melanie just barely edged out Frank for the bronze.
Thank you all for playing!!
THE MARCH SSQQ QUIZ: THE INFAMOUS EINSTEIN PUZZLE
Located in the nether regions of the SSQQ Web Site is a curious logic puzzle know as the Infamous Einstein Puzzle. http://ssqq.com/archive/vinlin06.htm
Einstein's Puzzle is a logic riddle that consists of 15 clues. It was sent to me by Donna Ruth back in 1998. Donna of course had it sent to her by someone else. I suppose it is likely this puzzle has been around the world several times. The note read that Albert Einstein himself wrote this quiz and that he believed that 98% of the world could not figure it out.
Well, to be honest, I was pretty skeptical that Mr. E = MC Squared himself had taken the time to write this little puzzle, but in the spirit of things, I pretended it was true. Desperate to see myself as brighter than 98% of the human race, I put aside everything and began to hammer out the puzzle. Several hours later I came up with an answer I was happy with.
Whether Sir Albert wrote it or not doesn't really matter. I thought the puzzle was difficult, but very interesting. Most important, I thought the puzzle was fair.
Afterwards I put the puzzle on the SSQQ Web Site in 1998. Over the years since 1998, people from all over the world have emailed me to confirm their solutions to the Einstein Puzzle. Just this February, I have received emails from 20 different people. The most recent one was from a college professor named Don Thomas:
Thu 02/28/2002 6:04 AM
"It took me about 1 hour and 45 minutes to firgure it out by drawing 5 house pictures. My son who is 15 figured it out in 10 minutes (ugh) and my 24 year old daughter figured it out 1 hour and 30 minutes. (Do younger minds see it more clearly and quickly because they have less mental bad habits and/or less clutter in their minds?! hmmm...) I changed the names of the cigarettes to different chewing gums and plan to give the puzzle to my gifted and talented students to see how long they take. Thanks for publishing the puzzle! DMT"
The March SSQQ Puzzle is the Infamous Einstein Puzzle. Everyone who solves it gets a free Practice Night in March. Be sure to tell me you are from SSQQ because I need to publish your name in the next SSQQ Newsletter as well!
WHAT IS IN A NAME?
Contributed by Mike Guillory
One day a small boy was at school. In Social Studies class his teacher was talking about last names, about how in the old days their last name used to be their occupation. She gave examples like Baker, which meant they where a baker for a living, Miller meant that person worked in a paper mill, Smith worked with metal, Archer was a bowman, and so on.
Twenty minutes later the subject had changed to a study of the Constitution and its signers.
A little boy raised his hand and the teacher said "Do you have a question?"
"Well, yes" said the little boy, "What did John Hancock do for a living?"
SSQQ STAFF BIOGRAPHIES
Wed 02/20/2002 9:24 AM
"Congratulations on updating the SSQQ Web site! It was pretty fun before and now it is even better; categories are easier to find and read, the artwork is coordinated, and you've added new categories.
My favorite new category is SSQQ Staff Biographies. I already knew the dance teachers were awesome, but knowing more about them makes me see them in a different light. Hey, they're human too! LOL
I enjoy the SSQQ Web site so much that whenever I get annoyed with work or a little depressed, I check out the Web site for a quick attitude adjustment. When I read (and re-read) the articles, it reminds me of all the fun I've had at SSQQ for the last 8 years. I really appreciate what you, your family, and staff have achieved in SSQQ. Peggy Head"
(Editor's Note: We added Staff Bios because several students asked us to. At this point only about half of the SSQQ Staff has given us their bio. If you would, bug your teacher to get on the ball and send one in!)
In last month's Newsletter, I fearlessly predicted the Rams would walk over the Patriots 45-7 in the Super Bowl. Basically I was mad that the Super Bowl conflicted with the start of classes that Sunday. That was going to cost me a lot of money. Since it was a widely predicted blowout anyway, I selfishly hoped that people would agree with me and come to class instead of watching the Super Bowl.
Instead it turned out to be one of the two or three best upsets in the history of the sport. We had the game on during class with the sound off in Room 2. The game was so good I wished I had taken the night off and watched it myself. I expected to be teased about my mistake by countless millions, but I got lucky and only got one poke in the ribs. The next day Steve Mink good-naturedly gave me a hard time about it.
Monday, February 04, 2002 1:04 PM
"I'm sure you're getting a ton of emails over this foot-in-mouth incident, as well you should! :o)
Mon 02/04/2002 2:48 PM
"Uh, you are the only one so far. However I did notice my prediction was pretty off base. ;-)
THE DEVIL AND THE NEW ENGLANDER
Contributed by Jill Banta
A New Englander dies and is sent to hell. He had been a horrible man throughout life and even the devil wanted to punish him, so he puts him to work breaking up rocks with a sledgehammer. To make it worse he cranks up the temperature and the humidity. "Love my kingdom!" laughs the devil.
After a couple of days the devil checks in on his victim to see if he is suffering adequately. The devil is aghast as he looks at the New Englander happily swinging his hammer and whistling a happy tune. The devil walks up to him and says, "I don't understand this. I've turned the heat way up, it's humid, you're crushing rocks; why are you so happy?"
The New Englander, smiling big, looks at the devil and replies, "This is great! It reminds me of August in New England. Hot, humid, a good place to work. It reminds me of home. This is fantastic!"
The devil, extremely perplexed, walks away to ponder the New Englander's remarks. Then he decides to drop the temperature, send down driving rain and torrential wind. Soon, hell is a wet, muddy mess. Walking in mud up to his knees with dust blowing into his eyes, the New Englander is happily slogging through the mud pushing a wheelbarrow full of crushed rocks.
Again, the devil asks how he can be happy in such conditions. The New Englander replies, "This is great! Just like April in New England. It reminds me of working out in the fields with spring planting!" The devil is now completely baffled.
Angry, and desperate to make hell really hell, he tries one last ditch effort. He makes the temperature plummet. Suddenly hell is blanketed in snow and ice. Confident that this will surely make the New Englander unhappy. The devil checks in on the New Englander.
He is aghast at what he sees! The New Englander is dancing, singing, and twirling his sledgehammer as he cavorts in glee.
"You idiot! How in the hell can you be so happy in Hell? Don't you know it's 40 below zero!?"
screams the devil.
Jumping up and down the New Englander throws a snowball at the devil and yells,
"Hell's frozen over!! This means the Patriots must have won the Super Bowl!!!"
THE SSQQ MARCH COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH
Sun 02/17/2002 5:44 PM
"Dear Mr. Archer,
I am currently taking a beginner class with "name omitted". This past week, the class was less than satisfactory. It started about 10 minutes late, and we spent most of the time reviewing the moves we learned in the first session. Only about 20 minutes at the end of the class were used to learn one new move. The most frustrating part, however, was the fact that the teacher would rather hear themself talk than see us dance. We would be all ready to do a move, and then they'd say "Hold it, let me show how not to do it" and launch into a lengthy explanation of reasoning behind every move. At one point the women spent at least 15 minutes just standing around waiting for the men to go through their footwork maybe once or twice - the rest of the time was spent listening to the teacher show us how not to dance. On top of that, with only 30 minutes left in the class after the break, the teacher decided to read the entire description of crash courses and parties coming up in the next two weekends, while at the same time complaining that how they can't read too well without their glasses. I know I'm not alone in my frustration, several of my classmates have expressed dissatisfaction with the class.
This is the first class I've ever taken at SSQQ. I would like to take more, but I will certainly not be taking any more classes taught by "name omitted".
Thank you for your attention."
Reply: "Fortunately you have two other nights to choose from. I will pass on your comments to the teacher and omit your name. Hopefully a word to the wise will be sufficient.
(Editor's Note: This complaint sounds credible to me. Of all the complaints I get about our classes, the most common one is about instructors who talk too much. I have been a dance student myself and I know how irritating it is to want to get to the dancing only to hear the instructor pause to say one more thing, then one more thing after that. And as a dance instructor, I know there have been times when I was guilty of this exact mistake.
All I can say is I am sorry and I will pass the complaint on the entire staff.)
SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE CONGRATULATIONS TO VALERIE AND WEBSTER!
Webster Tharp and Valerie Allen recently announced their engagement in Sharon Crawford's Night Club Twostep Class.
Rumor has it that Valerie and Webster went dancing after dinner on a Thursday night back in January. They went to Bayou City Nites in Pasadena. However, prior to their meeting, Webster had a bunch of flowers delivered to Bayou City Nites as well as several song requests.
It seems while they were out on the dance floor there was a certain announcement over the PA system... Valerie said that it was a total surprise to her and that she had no idea Webster was contemplating an engagement.
These SSQQ guys are pretty darn romantic. Congratulations!
SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE CONGRATULATIONS TO JAIME AND DOUGLAS!
SSQQ WCS students and Vera Cruz Cruise survivors Jaime Potter and Douglas Saadeh are getting married on Saturday, March 23. (How about a picture? http://ssqq.com/information/caribbean4.htm Bottom Right)
I wish I didn't have the Pajama Party of my own that night because Doug and Jaime are having an African Safari dance reception. Guests are expected to wear either black cocktail casual or Animal Print attire. I would love to wear my leopard skin tights to a wedding and maybe some face paint plus my zulu spear. Then for years and years when Doug and Jaime pulled out their wedding album they could see my picture and wonder what on earth they were thinking
This indicates an exceptionally cool attitude about their wedding in my opinion. I imagine they will have an absolute blast!
Have fun! By the way, someone remind me to play 'Welcome to the Jungle' at the Pajama Party in their honor.
WHY SSQQ INSISTS ON NAME TAGS
Contributed by Carole Nelson
Two elderly ladies had been friends for many decades.
Over the years they had shared all kinds of activities and adventures. Lately, their activities had been limited to meeting a few times a week to play cards.
One day they were playing cards when one looked at the other and said, "Now don't get mad at me.....I know we've been friends for a long time.....but I just can't think of your name! I've thought and thought, but I can't remember it. Please tell me what your name is."
Her friend glared at her. For three minutes she just stared and glared and frowned at her. Finally she said, "How soon do you need to know?"
SPEAKING OF THE SUPER BOWL - THE ULTIMATE GATE CRASHER
Rick Reilly is an award-winning columnist for Sports Illustrated. I find his stories absolutely fascinating. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.
The Ultimate Gate Crasher
By Rick Reilly
Coming the Big Easy, 72 year old Dion Rich had sneaked, weaseled, conned, bluffed, tricked and bamboozled his way into 32 straight Super Bowls, the record for a man refusing to touch his wallet.
Wait. Not just into the games, but often onto the fields and into the locker rooms. That's Rich on the winner's podium with Vince Lombardi and Pete Rozelle after the first Super Bowl. That's him helping to carry Cowboys coach Tom Landry off the field after XII. That's him whispering sweet nothings into coach Joe Gibbs' ear as the Redskins run off after winning XVII.
Wait, wait. It's not only Super Bowls. Rich has gone ticketless into World Series games, title fights, America's Cup races, Kentucky Derbies, and 14 Olympics. Basically, he's Red Smith without the deadlines. He's also crashed eight Academy Awards, as proved by pictures like the one of him with his arm around Gwyneth Paltrow after she won her Oscar. He even has a snap of himself at the Playboy Mansion, in Hugh Hefner's bathrobe.
It's not that Rich is poor. He's made boatloads in real estate and other things. "But why pay when you don't have to?" he asks.
Then came our recent Super Bowl XXXVI, hard on the heels of 9/11. The NFL spend $7 million on a mammoth security effort manned by the Secret Service, the FBI, FEMA, the National Guard, US Marshals and dozens of state and local law-enforcement agencies. The week looked bleak for the Sneak Streak.
It got worse. Everywhere Rich looked, there were Jeeps, Humvees and even tanks. There were more wands around him than at a fairy godmother convention. Security was triple anything he had seen before. A 10-foot-high chain-link barbed-wire fence was put up around the perimeter of the Louisiana Superdome.
Mission Impossible? Definitely.
Dion cased the Superdome and declared it tighter than Joan River's eyelids. How cold any of his tricks work? The wheelchair? Claiming to be a ref? Pretending to be with the team, the band, the stadium crew? The Coke-bottle bifocals? The bag of press credentials? "IF every Super Bowl was like this," he sighed in a media center he wasn't supposed to be in last Thursday, "I'd retire."
Not only that, but he was sure he was being followed. The NFL admits it has tailed him. "Oh, yeah, I've heard of him," Milt Ahlerich, the league's vice president of security, grumbled when asked. The NFL once told Rich if it ever caught him on the field again, he'd be finding out if he could sneak out of jail. He agreed to stay off the fields - but he never said anything about stadiums.
A streak is a streak, wartime or peace, and the Gate Crasher knew what lay before him: he must scale the insurmountable citadel. The day of the big game arrived. Wearing a blue blazer and a tie, an Albert Einstein haircut and glasses on the end of his pointy nose, Dion Rich set off to penetrate the most impenetrable sports fortress in US history.
So who won and who lost? The fortress lost. Rich was inside in six minutes. I know this for a fact because I followed him the whole way. It was pure art.
He doddered, darted, acted addled and hurried, slunk through tiny spaces and sped through unguarded ones. He never stopped walking and never started hearing. He nudged his way through the masses at the first security checkpoint and ticket check, waited until a young guard (he always looks for the youngest) had her head buried in a bag, sidestepped past her and through the one-foot gap between the metal detector and a fence. Then he buttonhooked a distracted wand man, did a pirouette around a bored National Guardsman that would've made Fred Astaire weep and then beat it up a ramp. He was never security-screened. Thank God he's on our side.
Now he had to get by the ticket rippers. He found a bank of unmanned doors locked from the inside, waited until a supervisor came barreling out of one, lithely slid his loafer into the gap before it closed and stepped through it as casually as if he were entering his own kitchen. "When am I going to learn never to bet against myself?" he said, grinning.
Make it 33 in a row.
Memo to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue: $7 million wasn't enough. Memo to Salt Lake Olympic Committee: He'll be there this week watching on the house.
I didn't hear from Dion again until midnight. He called from inside the Rams' postgame party, gobbling free gumbo and sipping the delicious merlot wine courtesy of the National Football League.
(Editor's Note: I am certain that Dion would never get past an SSQQ Hall Monitor!!)
THE BUM AND THE WELL-DRESSED MAN
Contributed by Sam DeMora
A bum, who obviously has seen more than his share of hard times, approaches a well dressed gentleman on the street.
"Hey, Buddy, can you spare two dollars?"
The well-dressed gentleman responds, "You are not going to spend it on liquor are you?"
"No, sir, I don't drink," retorts the bum.
"Your not going to buy cigarettes, are you?"
"No sir, I don't smoke either," says the bum.
"You are not going to throw it away in some crap game, are you?" asks the gentleman.
"No way, I don't gamble," answers the bum.
"You wouldn't waste the money at a golf course for greens fees, would you?" asks the man.
"Never," says the bum, "I don't play golf."
The man asks the bum if he would like to come home with him for a home cooked meal. The bum accepts eagerly. While they are heading for the man's house, the bum's curiosity gets the better of him. "Isn't your wife going to be angry when she sees a guy like me at your table?"
"Probably," says the man, "but it will be worth it. I want her to see what happens to a guy who doesn't drink, smoke, gamble or play golf.
ROMANCE IN MOVIES!
Reprinted from the Houston Chronicle
ROMANCE ON THE SILVER SCREEN MAY HOLD THE KEY TO TRUE LOVE
By Don Oldenburg
Ever sink deep into your seat in a darkened movie theater as you realize the love story projected on the big screen is your own?
It's not uncommon, according to Marcia Millman, who says many romance movies strike emotional chords in audiences because they reflect plot lines and themes that emerge time and again in our own lives.
"These are kind of universal stories," says Millman, author of 'The Seven Stories of Love: And How to Choose Your Own Happy Ending' (William Morrow, $25). "I don't know how deliberately or consciously the studio people are thinking about this, but they are coming up with plots that key into very profound experiences and emotional fantasies."
Hollywood writes its passion plots for entertainment and box office boffo. Millman sees another value altogether: Many classic romance movies can be instructive, even therapeutic, in helping us understand our romantic attractions and disappointments. Then we can rewrite our romances with happy endings.
Buried in the plot lines of films such as 'Casablanca' and 'Dirty Dancing' are the answers, she says, to such timeless questions as "Why do I always fall for the wrong guy?" and "Should I risk everything for love?" By recognizing these seven basic love stories that are re-enacted over and over in films, fiction and life, Millman says, we can connect with the motives and early experiences that unconsciously drive our choices and behavior in relationships.
First Love: 'Titanic' and 'Dirty Dancing.' This is a powerful plot line for youths when finding romance has much to do with "breaking away from our parents and finding our own identity," says Millman. Later in life, as in The Way We Were, some people long for their first love to recapture their youth or when something's missing in their current relationship.
Pygmalion: 'My Fair Lady,' 'Educating Rita' and 'Working Girl.' The mentor-and-protege plot revolves around the older partner's need for admiration and control, and the younger one's desire to grow. This story line often triggers emotions in women who lost their fathers at an early age.
Obsessive Love: 'Play Misty for Me' and 'Fatal Attraction.' This often is wrongly characterized as "loving too much," says Millman; instead, it's more about a lover whose fear of abandonment and anger drive him to control his partner.
The Downstairs Woman and the Upstairs Man: 'Pretty Woman' and 'You've Got Mail.' One of the most popular stories usually involves a bright, ambitious woman from a poor and unconnected background who falls in love with a powerful and wealthy man out of her reach. "Her aim is to win the love of a powerful man to make up for the father who paid no attention to her or rejected her," Millman says.
Sacrifice: 'Casablanca,' 'The Bridges of Madison County' and 'The End of the Affair.' This more typically middle-age story is ostensibly about sacrificing once-in-a-lifetime happiness for a higher moral purpose or principle - not hurting someone else, a higher calling. "What these people are often afraid of is passion," says Millman. "So now, in middle age, it may be they are less afraid of it."
Rescue: 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'Run Lola Run' and 'What Dreams May Come.' Common for both men and women, it's the tale of falling in love with someone who's been wounded in the past, and unconsciously seeking to rescue one's self by saving the lover.
The Courage to Love - 'Postponement and Avoidance: An Affair to Remember,' 'Sleepless in Seattle' and 'Forever Young.' Perhaps the all-time favorite, it's about having the faith that love will survive every obstacle. Such stories are about "someone who has been inhibited or afraid and finally takes a chance on love and it works out well," Millman says. "That really brings tears to people's eyes."
Millman says the seven basic love stories, like myths, reflect existential human problems - all evolving from common childhood experiences that have an impact on our later loves, influencing the kind of mates we choose and how we behave in romantic relationships. While we can never change our primary love stories, we can, however, change their endings.
"We all have one major story we keep coming back to," says Millman.
"Your significant partner is the person you're projecting a lot of the things from your childhood on that you are working through," she explains. "At different points in life, different scenarios become prominent. When we are youngsters, love and obsessive love are more common. Some of the other stories are reflecting psychological experiences that last a lifetime, like rescue or sacrifice or avoidance."
While some people live out their scenarios with hardly a heartache, others never find happiness. "There may be an optimal degree in which your partner taps into your scenario just enough that it gives the relationship an extra zing," Millman says. On the other hand, if you find yourself "intensely repeating one story over and over again, and it always ends up badly, that's when you need to understand your scenario and consider other choices."
Millman, a sociology professor, first began using the plots of romance movies to analyze how people love while teaching her course on romantic love at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Academic colleagues sometimes tease her about being "the Love Professor," though her research background includes five books based on real-world narratives, including The Unkindest Cut: Life in the Backrooms of Medicine and Such a Pretty Face: Being Fat in America.
But is narrowing the possibilities of romantic love to seven basic scenarios, as seen in the movies, pop-culture reductionism?
"Not at all. It is not reductionist to observe patterns in human behavior," says psychologist Judith Sills, author of four books on romance and relationships, including How to Stop Looking for Someone Perfect and Find Someone to Love (out of print) and A Fine Romance : The Psychology of Courtship from Meeting to Marriage (Ballantine).
"If you observe the patterns keenly enough and wisely enough, you leave room for tremendous variation in the details. But there are only so many stories in the naked city, and that's just a fact. Not only can you look for patterns in romantic relationships, but it is also very helpful to," Sills says.
IS IT SAINT PATRICK'S DAY YET?
Joke Contributed by Mike Guillory
A man asks the only other guy in the bar if he can buy him a drink.
"Of course," comes the reply.
The first man then asks him, "Where are you from?"
"Ireland," replies the second.
"I'm from Ireland, too! Let's have another round, to Ireland."
"Cheers!" replies the other, and they both toss back their drinks.
The first man asks, "Where in Ireland are you from?"
"Dublin," comes the reply.
"I can't believe it!" says the first man.
"I'm from Dublin, too! Let's have another drink, to Dublin!"
Then the first man asks, "What school did you go to?"
"St. Mary's," replies the second. "I graduated in '65."
"This is unbelievable," the first man says. "I went to St. Mary's and graduated in '65, too! God and the leprechauns have brought us together!"
About this time another man sits down at the bar. "What's going on?" he asks the bartender.
"Not much," he replies. "The O'Malley twins are so drunk they don't even recognize each other."
NEVER TRUST A STRANGER
Contributed by Crista Reuss
About a month ago there was a woman standing by the mall entrance passing out flyers to all the women going in. The woman had written the flyer herself to tell about an experience she had, so that she might warn other women.
The previous day, this woman had finished shopping, went out to her car and discovered that she had a flat. She got the jack out of the trunk and began to change the flat.
A nice man dressed in business suit and carrying a briefcase walked up to her and said, "I noticed you're changing a flat tire. Would you like me to take care of it for you?"
The woman was grateful for his offer and accepted his help. They chatted amiably while the man changed the flat, and then put the flat tire and the jack in the trunk, shut it and dusted his hands off.
The woman thanked him profusely, and as she was about to get in her car, the man told her that he left his car around on the other side of the mall, and asked if she would mind giving him a lift to his car.
She was a little surprised and she asked him why his car was on other side.
He explained that he had seen an old friend in the mall that he hadn't seen for some time and they had a bite to eat and visited for a while; he got turned around in the mall and left through the wrong exit, and now he was running late and his car was clear around on the other side of the mall.
The woman hated to tell him "no" because he had just rescued her from having to change her flat tire all by herself, but she felt uneasy. Then she remembered seeing the man put his briefcase in her trunk before shutting it and before he asked her for a ride to his car.
She told him that she'd be happy to drive him around to his car, but she just remembered one last thing she needed to buy.
She said she would only be a few minutes; he could sit down in her car and wait for her; she would be as quick as she could be.
She hurried into the mall, and told a security guard what had happened; the guard came out to her car with her, but the man had left.
They opened the trunk, took out his locked briefcase and took it down to the police station.
The police opened it (ostensibly to look for ID so they could return it to the man). What they found was rope, duct tape, and knives. When the police checked her "flat" tire, there was nothing wrong with it; the air had simply been let out.
It was obvious what the man's intention was, and obvious that he had carefully thought it out in advance. The woman was blessed to have escaped harm. How much worse it would have been if she had not used her judgment and given him a lift.
(Editor's Note: I imagine every woman older than 12 has heard a story like this. For that matter this story could be total BS. I get a lot of stories sent to me that turn out to be nonsense.
However in this case I know a woman who had this EXACT TRICK pulled on her shortly after she graduated from college. In her case, she got into her car in a parking lot only to have a man knock on her window to explain about a flat tire she had. Since she lived across the street, she decided it was no problem to drive home no matter what shape the tire was in, so she thanked him politely and drove off. To her surprise, there was nothing wrong with the tire. A couple days later there was a story of a woman assaulted in a nearby parking lot by a man using the identical trick.
Let me add that Ted Bundy, the infamous serial killer, actually rode up to women in a wheelchair with a broken arm in a cast pleading for help getting his wheelchair into his Volkswagen Beetle or a van. He would lay helplessly on the ground as the woman pushed the wheel chair in the van, and then suddenly the cast would fall off and his paralysis would disappear as he shoved the Good Samaritan woman into the van. The deaths of 36 different young, beautiful women in the prime of their lives have been attributed to Bundy, an extremely handsome, charming man by all accounts. He knew exactly how to get a woman to let down her guard using his looks, his charm, and his helplessness.
It never hurts to be reminded of the incredible danger of parking lots and allowing strangers to get too close.)
COMPUTERIZED REGISTRATION COMING TO SSQQ SOON
Last month I wrote about an incident where a man felt victimized because he was denied entry to his class. He didn't have his receipt and we couldn't find his name on the class roster. This incident was so aggravating to me that I have invested $10,000 in a new computer system designed to upgrade the SSQQ Registration process. Starting in March - or April if necessary - we will use computers for walk-in registration. Combined with our already successful On-Line Registration system, this will allow us to have a computerized recording of all class rosters. This will hopefully prevent incidents such as the one above from happening again.
In time it will also mean we have the power to limit the size of classes. With an accurate count of the people registered, we can prevent overcrowding.
We aren't there yet, but that's where we are heading.
DEAR ABBY - DANCING WITH MORE EXPERIENCED WOMEN AT PRACTICE NIGHT
"Rick, I have one dilemma that you may some thoughts about. Beginner ladies can dance with men of many levels because the man leads the woman. As a beginner man, I've only learned a few moves and can only dance with women who know the same or less than me. I compare it to the freshman girl, who can be asked out by freshmen through senior guys. The freshman guy can only ask out freshmen girls (assuming older women won't go out with younger guys).
What are your thoughts?
Reply: You have a legitimate concern, Joseph. My advice is to talk amongst the women in your dance class and persuade a couple ladies in the class to stay afterwards to practice with you. Believe me, the women are in a similar boat - they would love to know there is a guy from their class who is staying that they can practice with. This will allow them to have it both ways - dance with someone at their own level plus the chance to dance with the more experienced men as well. Let me add that anyone who organizes a group to stay and practice is going to be appreciated for making the effort.
Finally, dancing is a social activity. Most women are interested in being social as well as dancing at the top of their game. At Practice Night most women who stay are well aware there are going to be several beginners in the crowd. These women stay to meet people as well as to dance.
Unlike a dance hall where women are more on their guard, these women are in the mood to dance and they aren't afraid of strangers. Furthermore I do not know one woman at the studio who has a reputation for turning men down because they are beginners. I imagine snobs like this exist, but they are a rarity at SSQQ. Life in the Fast Lane types usually avoid my studio like the plague. On the other hand we attract born social workers by the droves.
The point is - if a song starts and you see a lady sitting out the song, ask her to dance. Just say something along the lines of, "Would you like to dance? I have to warn you I am a beginner so you might be in some danger."
Not all will say yes. They may be tired. But you will be pleasantly surprised at the high percentage of women who will be more than happy to dance with you.
And one last thing - don't park in front of the Door Warehouse.