There were two Newsletters in
May Issue Two
The SSQQ Newsletter is written by
REMINDER: SLEAZY BAR WHIP AND WESTERN PARTY ON
SATURDAY, APRIL 26
This is a TWO IN ONE Dance
Party. We have Western in one room (we take down
all the walls; there’s plenty of room plus lots of
tables) and Whip in another. It allows people to go
back and forth all evening and see what’s happening
in the different venues. The Western people love
Midnight... that’s the hour when the Whippers become
Strippers. We take what little clothing we are
still wearing completely off.
This year’s party promises to
be one of the absolute sleaziest in years. For
those of you who aren’t sure this is a good thing,
let me reassure you this is a very good thing. I
can’t tell you the number of women who are actually
bragging to me about their outfits.
This is a very good sign.
When women are proud of their
sleazy outfits, I know we are on to something
special. In addition, I will be taking a collection
on the night of the party from the men to turn off
the air-conditioning. Anything to help the clothes
come off faster, right? Who said we had to play
fair? This is truly a ‘no-holds-barred’ kind of
By the way - a word to the
wise - we talk a much better game about this party
than we act.
This party actually makes
people laugh! It gives us all an opportunity to
play-act at being rough, bad, tawdry characters.
Although I imagine one or two people get carried
away, the vast majority of us love the music, love
the dancing, and love being silly. So do not be
intimidated by anything you hear. If it is possible
to misbehave in a clean-cut way, that would be us.
We have a marvelous time at this party. Promise.
YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY TRY
AND TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE STORY BEHIND THE
SLEAZY BAR PARTY.
This is actually a very funny
party, but newcomers find it hard to understand the
inside jokes. There is no way to completely
appreciate the SSQQ Sleazy Bar Party unless you know
the story behind it. We have two stories to read as
Sleazy Bar Homework.
STORY ONE: LEGEND OF THE
This year we have a brand new
story for you to read: ‘The Legend of the Four
Back in 1986 I visited a very
nasty club on the wrong side of town each week in
pursuit of some of the best blues music I have ever
heard in my life... only to discover via a news
article that my favorite dive concealed a very dark
secret. I was deeply stunned.
By chance I recently ran
across the article again twenty years later. I
decided to publish it in honor of this year’s
party. After all, if it weren’t for the Four Palms,
this party would not even exist.
A tribute seems in order, yes?
STORY TWO: TALES OF THE
SLEAZY BAR PARTY!!
Have you ever heard the story
about the origin of the Sleazy Bar Whip Party?
Until the ‘Legend of the Four
Palms’ article was re-discovered, my previous story
about my experiences at the Four Palms was all we
had to go on. It remains a pretty story.
In addition, you will be
fascinated to read how in the second year of our
party we were raided by the Bellaire Police.
The Police entered the
building and suddenly thought they had stumbled on
the biggest Biker Gang in Bellaire history. One
policeman even had his hand on his holster as he
grimly surveyed the scene. Do you think I am
kidding? You don’t believe me? Well, I am not
kidding. It is a bizarre and very interesting true
Read the History of the SSQQ
Sleazy Bar Whip Party.
One more thing - SSQQ
welcomes everyone to this party regardless of where
they learned to dance. Who cares? All we ask is
that everyone leave your flag at home and come join
us the spirit of community. There is no propaganda,
no agenda, and no horn tootin’.
We just want everyone to
dance and have fun. The more the merrier.
THE NEW SSQQ
DANCE SEMESTER BEGINS SUNDAY, APRIL 27
As always, if you miss
classes the first week, you can start in the second
week as well.
DESCRIPTIONS OF CLASSES
Our Special class of the month is
SWING CHARLESTON WITH MAUREEN
SUNDAY NIGHTS AT 7 PM IN MAY AND
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 3:11 PM
To: Maureen Brunetti
Subject: Dancin’ in DC
Last week Claire and I went dancing one nite in
D.C. at a gig called: “Jam Cellar”.
While there a man asked where we were from and
when told, he wanted to know if we danced at
SSQQ. We said yes.
He said so did he about 4 or 5 years ago and
took Swing Charleston from Maureen.
We said that we sorta knew you and that we sorta
knew sing Charleston.
Then we proceeded to dance our feets off! They
And, I might add, that was a dancing crowd.
there were some very good lindy dancers there.
Of course, none knew as many moves as we did in
already forgot the guys name, but he remembered
thanks again, we talk about you every time
someone comments on our Charleston.
BTW, also danced in Baltimore and the
instructor wanted to know where we were from and
wanted Claire to dance, but she declined.
regards and warm thoughts, Tom”
RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:
Maureen forwarded the letter to me. Lo and behold,
I got the hint!
Tom Potter (who wrote the
email to Maureen) was right on the money. Swing
Charleston patterns are unbelievably eye-catching.
They are patterns that performers use to wow their
Many people are surprised to
find that Charleston was actually the first Swing
dance back in the Twenties. Charleston morphed into
Lindy, which morphed into Swing, which morphed into
Jitterbug, which morphed into West Coast Swing,
Shag, and Hustle....
DESCRIPTION OF SWING
The fascinating Swing
Charleston kick patterns can be easily merged with
regular Swing. Although Swing Charleston patterns
are 8-beats and Swing patterns are 6 beats, it is
relatively simple to go back and forth.
There are two Swing
Charleston courses. The first month covers
Side-by-Side Charleston patterns and shows you how
to get in from Swing and back to Swing.
Swing Charleston Classic
patterns include Bus Driver, Kick and Rock,
Side-by-Side Charleston, and Crossed-Hand Charleston
as well as others. Many people are not aware that
the Lindy originated out of the Charleston. In
particular, the “Side by Side” and “Crossed-Hands”
patterns were pretty much the first Lindy patterns
ever used when Lindy was making its breakout from
the Charleston in the 1920s.
Next month Maureen will
tackle Tandem Charleston. Please note this is an
Advanced class, so if you haven’t finished
Intermediate Swing, steer clear. Thanks!!
What is neat about Swing
Charleston is that you can dance Swing to ‘Candyman’
or ‘Mambo Number Five’ for a while, then flip a
switch and dance Swing Charleston to the same song
for a while, then go back to Swing.
Once you learn Swing
Charleston, you literally double your repertoire of
patterns. Pretty exciting stuff.
Class begins this coming
Sunday. If you have had Intermediate Swing, give it
a shot. Great class!
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE CONGRATULATES
GERRY FRANCIS AND AMY ADAMS
This past week, Gerry Francis
proudly announced his engagement to Ms. Amy Adams.
I am embarrassed to admit I
haven’t quite yet tracked them down to get a
picture, but I will soon enough.
I don’t know much about Amy
Adams. She started taking Twostep classes in
January of this year. I think she and Gerry hit it
off almost immediately. I remember meeting Amy on
Wednesday, February 25, during Western Practice
Night. Amy said she was practicing diligently to
get ready to dance on the summer cruise!
Amy also made it clear she
wanted me to post more pictures of Gerry misbehaving
on last year’s Conquest Cruise. I really
appreciated Amy’s interest at the time. To that
point, Gerry had been a little slow getting his
‘hush money’ to me, but he handed me the entire
amount the following Friday.
Gerry Francis has been a big
part of this studio for the past three years. In
this short span of time, Gerry has taken over 40
But lately Gerry hasn’t been
quite as ‘big’ a part as he used to be. (That’s a
joke, by the way). If you have trouble recognizing
Gerry, it might be because he has recently lost
quite a bit of weight. Gerry has become knockout
good-looking in the process. Now these are not my
words, but Marla said she didn’t mind if I repeated
In addition, he has
participated in our activities in every way
imaginable. For starters, Gerry had a great time on
last year’s 2007 Conquest Cruise. He got in so much
trouble! Alas, he paid the hush money so I cannot
reveal anything further.
Gerry has also found the time
to serve as a valuable assistant instructor in Swing
and Ballroom classes. Marla and I fight over Gerry
at all times to get him to be our assistant in dance
class because he is both loveable and reliable... a
potent combination indeed.
Gerry has also been a
fantastic Friday night Hall Monitor for some time.
He watches our back every Friday night. I don’t
think it is an accident that attendance on Friday
Night Practice has been growing steadily for some
time. I give Gerry a lot of credit. His smiling
face and responsible attitude towards minding the
front door have allowed all the rest of us to dance
the night away knowing our backs are covered.
Good things happen to good
Oddly enough, Gerry is just
one of our Hall Monitors who is getting married. At
the end of May, the vivacious Sandy Lenarduzzi is
getting married and honeymooning in Italy. Soon
former SSQQ Hall Monitor Sue Cirelli will be getting
married. And of course current SSQQ Hall Monitor
Tammey Goodner will also be getting married in
And don’t let me forget
Wednesday Hall Monitor Barry Newmark who married
SSQQ student Renee Fuller late last year!
Five SSQQ Hall Monitors
married or engaged in a six-month span. Wow!
You almost have to wonder if
it is more than a coincidence. Let me add that our
next article should come as no surprise to anyone...
SSQQ NEEDS HALL MONITORS
We have an immediate Hall Monitor
opening on Thursday. We may have another
opening coming up as well. If you
would like to join the SSQQ Staff, please
contact Marla. You can email her
Not only do we pay you for
your time, as perks go, you are bound to be engaged
within a year. You have your pick of countless
GREECE, ITALY, AND TURKEY
July 20-July 27
Since our last newsletter, we
have added 2 more people to the trip. We are now up
to 51 people!
This is very good news
because we have qualified for a cocktail party
courtesy of Royal Caribbean. Therefore no one has
permission to drop out or the rest of us will come
Frankly, this is the most
amazing trip we have ever booked. Italy-Greece
turns out to be the hottest ticket this summer.
Even with all the gas problems, according to the
travel magazines, this Mediterranean trip remains
the most popular destination in the cruise industry
We still have two inside cabins
at the original group rate of $1101 per person.
I will lose these cabins on April
24th. If interested please contact me
Marla 713 862 4428 (10 am - 3 pm)
CARIBBEAN DANCE CRUISE
August 24-August 31
Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Four weeks ago we were at
90. Three weeks ago we hit 111 as of the end of
March. Two weeks ago we stood at 117. Currently we
stand at 120. This puts us just 5 passengers behind
last year’s total of 125. Marla and I expect to
reward passengers 125 and 126 with a special
ceremony during the trip.
Currently this is our 4th
largest trip in history. Marla says there are
several people on the fence about going. With any
luck at all we should be able to pass last year’s
mark soon enough and make this one of our largest
trips in history.
Marla can still get anyone on
board at the prevailing rate. She also asked me to
say that if you are signing up without a roommate,
she will have to wait-list you until another person
Marla’s email address is
THE CELEBRATION, OUR OLD
Email from Marla to Rick:
From: Marla Archer
Sent: Monday, April 21, 2008 3:20 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: The Celebration has been put out to
“Sayonara to Celebration:
Carnival’s Celebration departed on its final
stateside cruise on April 14 from Jacksonville,
where it had been sailing year-round four- and
five-day cruises to the Bahamas.
21-year-old, 1,486-passenger ship will join
Iberocruceros, Carnival’s joint venture with
Orizonia Corporacion, Spain’s largest travel
company, after extensive renovations.”
RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:
The Celebration was the cruise ship where Marla and
I met back in 2001. At the time, the other
passengers were a little disappointed at the quality
of the ship. Personally I don’t remember much about
the ship or the cruise since Marla and I were
But I do remember the
Celebration had a twin sister ship named ‘Jubilee’
which we used for our 2003 trip. The Jubilee
remains the worst cruise ship I have ever been on.
The AC didn’t work, it was dismal, dirty, rundown,
awful, you name it. One night during a storm, the
Jubilee started to list. We were all at dinner.
The ship started to tilt one way, then tilt the
other. It did this several times, but after one
particularly strong tilt, the Jubilee actually froze
in mid-tilt. The stabilizers were clearly
unstable! At the time, I wasn’t feeling very
As the Jubilee stayed in this
position for quite some time, I had the chance to
notice the water in my glass was at least 15° from
being level! I was very nervous and so were a lot
of other people. Fortunately after a minute, the
ship righted itself, but that minute was a lot
longer than most minutes. That minute was at least
five minutes long if you get my drift.
It was my understanding the
Jubilee was put out to pasture shortly after our
2003 trip. Good riddance! I didn’t shed a tear for
the Jubilee, but I do have fond memories of the
I congratulate the
Celebration on living 5 years longer than its twin.
You can read the story of the
Vera Cruz trip on the
SSQQ web site.
FROM OUR PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:
COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH -
FIRING CUSTOMERS FROM SSQQ!
Written by Rick Archer (and
Rick Archer’s Note:
In our previous Newsletter, I printed 6 pages....
That’s right.... 6 pages of emails dealing with
communication problems with we had with one
particular student... that’s right... six pages of
emails/ one student.
In retrospect, maybe those
emails weren’t that exciting. Here is what one
Newsletter reader had to say about my efforts at
International Diplomacy. Please note beforehand
that it is an email from a known nuisance dance
student who probably couldn’t care less about all
the bad things I say about him.)
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 7:54 AM
Subject: Re: April SSQQ Newsletter Third
“Hey Rick, what did you do, clean out your email
Tell them to stuff it if they don’t like the
tell them they could buy the place and then
change the rules to suit themselves.
much reading for so little meaningful info.
must have been bored.
I need to send you more dirty pictures. ha
Have a grate day if you are cooking outside.”
Rick Archer’s Note:
Ordinarily I would protect the identity of the
responder, but Milt is in trouble with me today for
sending me new pictures of the most extraordinary
Island home and yacht I have ever seen. The envy
created by that email put me in a really bad mood.
If by chance anyone got the
same email and wants to help me rough up Milt, let
Are you are dying for a huge
case of envy? If so, let me know and I will show
you Milt’s pictures in the next Newsletter. Then
you can join my Tilt the Milt Gang and we can all
Jubilee him (see previous article).
NEXT PASSAGE IS REPRINTED FROM THE PREVIOUS
“Longtime readers of the SSQQ
Newsletter know that I occasionally rant about SSQQ
customers. Perhaps the best example is my story
Demon Dance Customer
in last year’s October
The adage as we all know is
that the customer is always right. That said, this
sentiment seems to in question these days. For
example, I have a friend who tells me she fires her
customers occasionally when they stand her up for
appointments. She does it in a nice way, but makes
it clear it is time for them to find a replacement
That said, if truth be told,
I don’t fire very many students. I would estimate
maybe one person a year gets excommunicated from
SSQQ. There are a couple I would like to strangle,
but by and large the people who come to the studio
are friendly, honest, and decent people. The vast
majority of our customers are marvelous human
So what does a student have
to do to get fired?”
(SPECIAL WARNING NOTE TO
MILT - THIS NEXT ARTICLE IS EIGHT PAGES LONG IN CASE
YOU WANT TO BYPASS IT)
COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH!
DOES A STUDENT HAVE TO DO TO GET FIRED?
Rick Archer’s Note:
In the past, most of the complaints have been
directed at me. But today, I am going to do the
complaining. I am upset with a student whose name
and identity will remain confidential.
One really easy way to get
fired as a student (or an employee for that matter)
is to be rude to my wife.
SSQQ currently enjoys one of
the happiest Eras of my career. There are so many
people who contribute to this Era that the list is
If I name a few, I insult the
ones I leave off.
If I name a lot, this 15-page
Newsletter doubles in length.
So for now I will stick to one
At the top of the List is my
wife Marla. Thanks to her hard work, I have a
special name for this particular Era:
It is the
LOVE BOAT ERA.
Not only does Marla keep a
steady hand on the business details of SSQQ, her
work with the two SSQQ cruises each year is
phenomenal. No one but me sees the daily work Marla
puts in answering the phone with both current and
potential Cruise customers, interacting with Royal
Caribbean and Carnival booking agents, and typing
endless replies to an endless number of email
questions. Add to that her interaction with her
host travel agency, her constant review of the
travel possibilities on the Internet, and all the
paper shuffling she handles, you have one very busy
As I am fond of saying, “Many
of you, few of me.” Well, when it comes to the
Cruises, Marla operates under the same conditions.
There is only one Marla, but this year there are
nearly 200 cruisers (many of whom are brand new and
Not only does Marla patiently
answer many of the same questions day in - day out
for different people, there are some cruisers who
seem to make a hobby emailing Marla practically
every other day. One person has emailed Marla 38
times regarding one cruise. Nor is he/she the
exception. There are two other people with over 30
emails. Many of you/Few of Marla.
When I ask Marla if it gets
old, she nods yes, but then she quickly adds that
every job has its good sides and bad sides. She
understands that diligence in regards to
correspondence is part of making sure that each
cruise is well organized and that new people feel
they are going to sea prepared.
MARLA RECEIVED AN EMAIL THAT CROSSED THE LINE. HERE
Date: 04/15/2008 5:38:49 PM
Subject: Cruise in August
“Good Afternoon Marla,
was looking at the Cruise you are putting
together in August but the prices seemed high.
When I went onto the Carnival Cruise site, I
found the attached rates. (RA’s NOTE: NO RATES
Also, I know that for every 8 or 10 people that
sign up, there is one free cruise for the person
putting it together.
I mistaking? Is there something added into the
price of the cruise for the SSQQ people that is
not included in the price listed on the Carnival
website? My friend and I would like to go but
not if we have to pay more than Joe Nonssqq -
- If you search the Internet, MANY of the travel
agents are offering $100 per person discount
and/or double class upgrades. Certainly SSQQ
wouldn’t charge their people more just to make a
couple of bucks.”
RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:
“Certainly SSQQ wouldn’t charge their people more
just to make a couple of bucks... ha ha ha”
This email upset Marla. Not
only did this individual have their facts WRONG,
Marla didn’t appreciate the insinuation that she
marked up the price.
For the record, Marla
received an average of about $25 a person in
commissions for last year’s dance cruise. This is
no one’s business, but I thought I would share it
with everyone nevertheless.
From the start, Marla has
organized these cruises as her way of making a
special contribution to our studio. She has a
natural ability for this job. Marla also puts her
heart into it.
Marla could make more money
at this, but she generally returns her perks to our
passengers in the form of cocktail parties,
champagne parties, and upgrades.
As the Almighty is my
witness, if you divided the hours Marla puts into
these cruises into the commission she receives, her
rate would be well below the federal hourly
minimum. She does this work from her heart, not for
Despite the pleasantries, the
innocent little questions and the joking banter,
this email should be read for what it is: a poorly
veiled innuendo that Marla marks up the price. I
counted 7 different passages that called into
question the price tag in one way or another.
This was the email equivalent
of a slap in the face. I was angry when I saw that
email. This person crossed the line and now I had
something to say.
RICK ARCHER REPLIES
Subject: Cruise in August
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 06:26:31 -0500
SSQQ has been doing these
cruises now for eight years.
You have the distinction of
sending perhaps the least polite initial email
regarding the cruise trips we organize that I have
If you have so little initial
confidence in us, I doubt things are going to get
I will remove your name, but
rest assured this email is hitting the newsletter
later this week.
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 6:58 AM
To: Rick Archer; email@example.com
Subject: RE: Cruise in August
Might I suggest that you re-read the email and
see that it was not written as you have
regret that you have taken such a defensive
position, and while I do not believe that you
have meant a threat of trying to defame me or
damage my name and reputation, how else am I
supposed to read your email.
Having met you, I would not believe you are one
who treats a simple question with such
defamatory remarks. If you have such strong
feelings, might I suggest a more professional
action, such as a phone call or personal
have been coming to your facility for XXX and
have brought dozens of new clients. Do you
really think it is my attempt to intentionally
harm SSQQ? Certainly not but my question was
valid and just, based on current information
Archer, the email was sent to Marla with
reasonable expectations of privacy. I do not
give permission to broadcast it through your
newsletter with any reference to my name or
being, and I would encourage you to contact me
to discuss this matter if you so feel inclined.
With Business Regards, ANONYMOUS
RICK ARCHER’S SIDE NOTE:
I said, “You have the
distinction of sending perhaps the least polite
initial email regarding the cruise trips we organize
that I have seen yet.”
Last time I checked
1) To be defamatory, you have
to identify the person
2) To be defamatory, you have
to say something false.
RICK ARCHER REPLIES TO ANONYMOUS:
Subject: RE: Cruise in August
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 09:55:43 -0500
No one said you were trying
to harm SSQQ, but the tone of your first email
clearly insinuated that Marla was inflating the
price (which is not true). I believe Marla has
already replied to you with the facts of the matter.
Now as for your second email,
since I have been publishing student emails in my
studio’s Newsletter now for the past ten years, what
gave you the impression you could write us “with a
reasonable expectation of privacy?”
I previously told you I
intend to publish the letter with your name omitted,
but now that you have bullied me into submission, I
will again promise to omit your name. I will also
omit your name when I publish your follow-up letter
Don’t worry. You have my word
on that as you did the first time. I have no doubt
your pristine reputation will be maintained.
Out of curiosity, if you
think your initial email was harmless as you so
claim, why do you feel so compelled to lawyer-up?
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 10:59
To: Rick Archer
Subject: This is not the correct manner /
media for these communications.
email was directed as a personal correspondence
to Marla and in no way was intended as a student
email regarding SSQQ. If I was aware of the fact
that others beside her would be reading the
message or if that it was open to possible
publication, it would have been written with
this in mind. Is it SSQQ policy to hold all
correspondence open to publication? Is that
course it is your decision as to what you decide
to publish but might I suggest that as you read
my email and interpreted it in an incorrect
manner, I read your email also equally as
offensive and as an attack and threat against
posing a reasonable question about one of your
products. If that was not your intent, then I
too might have incorrectly reacted as you did.
did smile with your “lawyering up” comment.
Although I am not licensed, it appears my
training over the years is starting to show
through. As a XXX in many companies, I am
constantly amazed at the manner in which we are
forced to communicate. Also, at $250 - $400 per
hour, my legal staff is always willing to make
mountains out of molehills. No wonder there are
so many derogatory lawyer jokes.
again extend the offer of a phone call or face
to face (I am there 3-4 times a week) as I am
sure you will agree that there is no benefit to
each of us escalating this relatively minor
annoyance or damaging relationships.
RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:
I did not respond any
further. However, I did go ask Marla what the truth
was regarding the initial email from ANONYMOUS.
Here are Marla’s responses:
ANONYMOUS SAID: I was looking at the Cruise
you are putting together in August but the
prices seemed high. When I went onto the
Carnival Cruise site, I found the attached
rates. (RA’s NOTE: NO RATES WERE ATTACHED)
the day that I received the initial email from
ANONYMOUS, the rate on the SSQQ site was absolutely
identical to the prevailing rate on the CARNIVAL
site. However, Carnival did not bother to list the
fuel surcharge ($35) or taxes ($80). This is a
common practice in the industry used to make the
prices of the cruise seem less than they really are.
ANONYMOUS SAID: Also, I know that for every
8 or 10 people that sign up, there is one free
cruise for the person putting it together.
long-time industry standard is that every Sixteenth
person goes for free. This is a deeply
misunderstood rule. The reality is that Cruise Fare
Only is free. Port Fees ($160), Taxes ($80), and
Fuel Charge ($35) must be paid regardless.
ANONYMOUS brings me 15 completely new passengers who
have never been on an SSQQ cruise before, I would be
more than happy to comp the Cruise Fare, but
ANONYMOUS would still be responsible for the
remaining $275 for port fees, taxes, and charges.
ANONYMOUS SAID: Am I mistaken? Is there
something added into the price of the cruise for
the SSQQ people that is not included in the
price listed on the Carnival website? My friend
and I would like to go but not if we have to pay
more than Joe Nonssqq - hahaha
record, there is absolutely NO MARKUP in the SSQQ
price. I get paid a commission and that’s it.
like to point out something else. Here is a list of
past perks provided by SSQQ as our way of thanking
people for becoming members of our group:
2. Free Admission to the SSQQ Saturday Party prior
to departure the following day.
3. Private cocktail party
4. Free dance lessons
5. Champagne party
6. Chocolates delivered to cabin
7. Group dining
8. On board credits
10. Organizing Group photo (and posting it on the
11. Rick’s Cruise Writeup (hmm)
12. SSQQ Cruise After-Party
ANONYMOUS were to sign up directly through
Carnival’s Website, he or she would receive none of
those twelve benefits.
me add, if ANONYMOUS had come to me prior to our
Group Registration Deadline on April 10th,
he or she would have received a discount of $95 to
$135 off the prevailing rate offered at that time by
Carnival. We were a hundred dollars below market
price. There were several warnings of the upcoming
deadline well in advance, both on the website and in
previous newsletters. You can’t wait forever!
ANONYMOUS SAID: PS - If you search the
Internet, MANY of the travel agents are offering
$100 per person discount and/or double class
upgrades. Certainly SSQQ wouldn’t charge their
people more just to make a couple of bucks.”
same day I received the initial email, I visited
Travelocity, one of the largest Internet Travel
booking engines, to check on this claim made by
ANONYMOUS. Their rate was identical to Carnival’s
prevailing rate. There was no offer of $100
discounts whatsoever. If ANONYMOUS thought there
was a suspicious discrepancy, Travelocity chose not
to list Taxes ($80), and Fuel Charge ($35) in their
posted fare. Since this adds up to $115, perhaps
this caused the $100 misconception on the part of
add I saved an entire document worth of comparative
shopping I did that day in response to the email
from ANONYMOUS. If anyone - including ANONYMOUS -
wishes to see that document, please email me (
firstname.lastname@example.org ) and I
will forward my research on the spot.
have my word that everything I have said is correct
to the best of my knowledge and I can prove it too.
RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:
While ANONYMOUS and I were exchanging emails;
ANONYMOUS also wrote to Marla one more time.
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 9:28
To: Marla Archer
Subject: RE: Cruise in August
we want to go?” Of course we do! Who wouldn’t
want to join the rag tag miscreants of SSQQ? It
looks like a blast.
I’ll just need to see if I buy through you guys
or online. Would we still be allowed to play
with the group if we bought our tickets online?
simple answer is:
NO. YOU ARE NOT WELCOME.
YOU HAVE BEEN FIRED!
never ceases to amaze me the number of people who
book elsewhere, then expect Rick and Marla to
welcome them into the Group with open arms. Why do
people suspend their innate sense of decency in
order to save $10 here or $20 there?
read between the lines what ANONYMOUS is saying to
me, it goes something like this: “Marla, I heard you
organized a marvelous rag tag group of miscreants.
By the way, I just signed up for that same trip
online. That means I took $25 out of your pocket so
I could save $10-20 out of my pocket, but surely you
won’t have a problem with me joining your
wants to get something for nothing. This attitude
is so irritating I almost wonder if it was said
deliberately to provoke me! If so, nice shot. You
scored a bull’s eye.
the Party’ is an industry-wide headache. Not one
group organizer would permit such a thing. Every
website I visit has some sort of prohibition against
people joining without an invitation.
Throughout the Travel Industry -Vacations to Go and
Sundancer Cruises are two examples - everyone who
organizes group cruise trips has to deal with this
HERE IS SUNDANCER’S POLICY:
“Dances & Workshops will be
“Private Parties” only available to our group!
You must book with Sundancer
Cruises to participate in Workshops and Dances.”
HERE IS VACATIONS TO GO’S
Q- “Can I book with my local
travel agent or directly with the cruise line and
still join your singles group activities?”
A- “Sorry, no. To be part of
our singles group, you must book the cruise through
Vacations To Go. Any singles onboard who did not
book through Vacations To Go will be denied access
to our special events, cocktail parties, shore
excursions and dining.”
has an almost identical policy to Vacations to Go.
it or Hook It’ Rule, we were forced to
institute this policy after several abuses.
policy states: “You must book your cruise with SSQQ
in order to be part of our group.”
case of ANONYMOUS (“I’ll just need to see if I buy
through you guys or online/ would we still be
allowed to play with the group if we bought our
tickets online?’), ANONYMOUS has been fired from the
trip so it is a moot point.
wrap this story up, there are some things I would
like to say to everyone who has taken a cruise with
us, be they past, present, and future.
not want anyone on my trip who distrusts me to the
degree expressed by ANONYMOUS.
the truth. Always. Whatever I print on the web
site, that is the truth as I know it when I print
it. You have my word on that.
think I am gouging people I consider to be personal
friends to line my pockets, please find another
agent or book on the Internet. Just leave me alone
and don’t ask to join the group!
chosen to defend myself this time, but from now on I
won’t bother. I will simply post this document on a
permanent spot on the SSQQ travel web site. Then if
anyone doubts my word, I’ll just email him or her
course people have a right to ask questions about
pricing! I answer questions all the time. But ask
in a respectful manner, and try checking your facts
now successfully organized eleven cruise trips over
a period of six years. My work is published on the
SSQQ web site for anyone to review. I know what I
am doing and I stand by my record.
cruise numbers grow every year for a reason - people
have learned to trust me. And I am grateful for
do not appreciate having my reputation challenged,
especially by someone as ignorant as this customer!
I appreciate having sarcastic, demeaning people
challenge my integrity or my competence. This is
exactly the kind of condescension that takes the fun
out of my work.
will treat me with respect, I will organize the best
trip I possibly can for you and I will answer your
questions to the best of my ability. But please
don’t question my word. That is all I ask.
FOLLOW-UP: A FUSS
FROM RICK ARCHER
RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:
Two Newsletters ago, I first printed this article.
Read it quickly or skip it if you have already seen
our previous issue, I published a wonderful
article on the Health Benefits of Social Dance.
It was a lovely article contributed to the
Newsletter by Helen Lengel.
Personally, I loved the article and expected the
readers to enjoy it as well. But I didn’t hear
a thing. Just one little email from my friend
Kathleen Ballantfant of the Bellaire newspaper
who agreed that it was a marvelous article.
After that, deafening silence.
Whenever I go to the Renaissance Festival, I
make sure to visit the Mud Wrestlers.
Beforehand, this half-naked mud-crusted
quasi-pervert gets up and reminds the people in
the crowd that a Dead Audience results in a Dead
Show. I have actually been at a show where the
applause barely moved the Scream Meter. Sure
enough, the energy of that performance was kind
you know and I know the score. They should be
professional and do their mud-wrestling antics
with the same enthusiasm time and time again.
But you know what? It really helps to have some
Ever since I have switched to this Weber Email
Service, I have been looking to hit my stride
again with the SSQQ Newsletter. In the old
days, people would write me all sorts of things
and we would get an exchange going.
These days I don’t hear a thing. I have no idea
if anyone reads the Newsletter any more. So I
admit it’s tough to put much energy into the
Part of the problem is we haven’t had much in
the way of complaints lately. Those complaints
used to get my blood boiling and I would rant
and you would love it. Go Rick Go Rick!
Somehow I have to believe the complaints will be
back. But in the meantime, do me a favor. Send
me some feedback so I will know what you like in
the Newsletter and what bores you to tears. If
you care, I will gladly protect your identity.
So let’s get this thing going again!”
(RICK ARCHER’S NOTE: This
issue marks the Third Time I have printed
The First Time I printed it,
I received ZERO responses.
The Second Time I printed it,
I received many very kind responses. I would like
1. D C
2. Polly (yes, Dakota asked her to leave)
5. the lovely and beautiful Lisa (thank you for
12. Adrienne (thank you for your response about
the credit issue)
Plus probably several more
that I missed. This time I felt much better. Thank
you Thank you.
Adrienne lives in Qatar so
she probably won’t be taking lessons any time soon.
She had something to say I found interesting
regarding my rant in the last newsletter about
asking for Credit even when you know your request
contradicts the way the rules state.
“My husband is the type of
person who would ask for a credit outside of the
dance policy with the theory of ‘it doesn’t hurt to
I would argue with him that
the policy is very clear and written for a reason
and that he shouldn’t ask. Thanks to this issue of
the newsletter, I would win the argument. It might
not hurt my husband to ask, but it might hurt you.
It does take unnecessary time and effort on your
part to handle each issue.”
RICK ARCHER’S REPLY:
From: SSQQ Newsletter
Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2008 10:08 AM
Subject: Credit Issues
Very interesting reply. You
hit a nerve.
Since I have direct
experience with the problem, I would support your
position for two specific reasons -
1) Many of you; few of me. It
definitely drains me responding to all these
requests. I spend one, two, three hours a day
emailing people on this stuff.
2) It also creates animosity on
my part and it makes me more cynical all the time.
Every time someone asks for an exception that is
inappropriate, it makes me less patient with the
administrative problems take all the fun out of
running what should be a marvelous experience.
The bottom line is when
people start overwhelming my wife and me with these
requests, we start to look for the exit door.
There are literally days when
all Marla and I can do is talk about buying an RV
and heading to the hills. At our age, the
resentment just gets harder to deal with every day.
AND NOW I
HAVE A CONFESSION TO MAKE!
I really appreciated all the
nice letters of support from the dozen people above
plus several kind comments at the studio. But I was
suspicious. Why would I get Zero responses followed
by a dozen responses?
After all, several of the
letters... especially Polly (who I never even
responded to; forgive me forgive me!) weren’t just
notes, but were actually lengthy, insightful, and
very encouraging missives.
So I checked out my
suspicions. I discovered that my Aweber Email
Notification system has two email lists. On one
list is Rick and Lester. On the other the other
list are Two Thousand People. Out of the last ten
Newsletters, at least three, possibly four of them
have gone to Rick and Lester and no one else... but
since Rick got one, he assumed the whole world got
No wonder no one likes me,
especially Lester who never responded to my pleas
On the bright side, I have
all sorts of neat things to send you that you may
not have seen yet.
CONGRATULATIONS TO JOY
One of my favorite dance
students, Joy Al-Jazrawi, was bragging about making
Rick Casey’s column today. I was curious about
this. Most people only show up in Casey’s column
when they get in trouble. Not our Joy. Joy is an
immigration lawyer who showed up in the April 23
column of famous Chronicle muckraker Rick Casey
because she successfully helped a young man named
Mauricio Barragan win his appeal to avoid
deportation to Bolivia.
I am not quite sure how Mr.
Casey came to take an interest in Barragan, but it
was kind of him to credit Joy’s work for turning the
Joy, who is also known as JJ,
is very important to me. Joy and her sister Gina
serve as my official bodyguards during Friday
Practice Nights. This is known as an “Inside joke”.
Although Joy and Gina bring
me nothing but Joy, their mother is driving me nuts
with envy with tales of her upcoming European
Gina and Joy’s mother Ann Al-Jazrawi
(her studio nickname is Mrs. AJ) has informed me
that her 6-week European trip to
Alps/London has been stretched to eight weeks
because now she has to help her niece get married in
Poor Mrs. AJ being forced to
stay in Germany for three extra weeks! Boo Hoo.
As if I wasn’t too envious
about her trip already. I would kill to see
Speaking of trips,
Troublemaker Extraordinaire Phyllis Porter tried to
interest Joy in our August cruise. Joy briefly
considered it, then pointed out that her clients
seem to get in more trouble in August than any other
month of year. Oh sure. Joy’s just trying to get
another mention in Rick Casey’s column. Fine. Be
that way, Joy.
Everyone else will be getting
in trouble in Phyllis’ hot tub adventures on the
cruise. Then they can end up getting another mention
in Rick Archer’s column.
AND NOW FOR
THE JOKE OF THE DAY - THE GORILLA!
CONTRIBUTED BY PAT ROBERTS
It’s a beautiful, warm spring
morning. A man awakens, sees his beautiful wife
sleeping and nudges her to suggest a little fun
before they hit the zoo.
The wife immediately grabs
her forehead and says maybe later, but right now she
has a splitting pain in the middle of her forehead.
The husband groans. He’s heard this one before. A
little grouchy, he heads to the kitchen to have some
coffee. A few minutes his wife pops in looking all
chipper in a gorgeous new dress she has bought for
the occasion. “Hurry up and get ready. We are off
to the zoo!”
Sure enough, the husband and
his wife are spending the day at the zoo. Thanks to
his wife’s urging, they get there early. As a
result, they are practically the only people at the
A bit wistfully, he admires
his beautiful wife’s good looks as they stroll
along. She’s wearing a cute, loose-fitting, pink
spring dress, sleeveless with straps. She has always
been quite the head-turner and today is no
As they walk through the ape
exhibit, they pass in front of a pit containing a
very large hairy gorilla. Looking up, the gorilla
notices the woman and seems riveted.
The wife notices that she has
had an effect on the ape. She grins and decides to
wave back at the gorilla. “Hey there, Mr. Gorilla!
How are you today?”
Realizing the woman has
responded to him, now the ape puts on a show. He
jumps up and down on the logs in the pit, grunts
loudly, and pounds his chest.
Not expecting that kind of
reaction, the wife blushes, and then decides to wave
again. This time she even does a little dance,
holding the side of her dress and prancing around.
The Gorilla is very happy.
The husband, noticing the
excitement, thinks this is very amusing. He knows
his wife is a looker, but he never realized her
attractiveness to the male gender crossed over to
animals. Furthermore he is taken aback to see her
actually flirt with a gorilla.
The husband suggests that the
wife tease the poor fellow some more. He suggests
she play along. So she puckers her lips, blows him
a kiss, then turns around and wiggles her bottom at
Oh my goodness. Mr. Gorilla
gets even more excited, jumping around and hollering
“hoo hoo ha ha”. Then he starts to beat his chest
Tarzan-style. The husband rolls his eyes. Didn’t
he see this exact mating ritual on National
Geographic last week? Well, this is the real
thing. A kind of weird feeling overtakes the
husband. He suggests that she let one of her straps
fall to show a little more skin. Getting into it,
she does exactly that.
Now the gorilla is about to
kill himself scratching at the stone walls to get to
her. He is developing one heck of a simian
youknowwhat. Seeing this, the wife is getting a
little flush herself. She can’t explain it, but
being the object of all this fuss is turning her
on. Who would ever think this could happen?
Meanwhile the husband shakes
his head in wonder. Just when he thinks he has seen
everything under the sun, something like this comes
along. Sure this is all a little sick, but it is
what it is. He can’t help himself. He decides to
egg her on.
“Now lift your dress up above
your thighs and fan your dress at him like Marilyn
Monroe,” he says.
She grins. Oh yeah. Good
idea! This works wonders. Those long legs and the
flapping dress drive the gorilla absolutely crazy.
Now he’s doing flips and starts making every kind of
ape sound imaginable. He is going nuts! The husband
sees what they mean when they say, “go ape”. This
gorilla has a thing for his wife; he has it bad.
She has really rattled his cage. Sometimes people
do crazy things. Logically speaking, it makes no
sense, but on the spur of the moment they do stuff
they can’t even begin to explain later on. The wife
is deeply amused by her power over this beast down
below. She is having a really good time and feeling
kind of giddy. Teasing comes as naturally to her as
breathing. No one is around but her husband and
he’s getting into it, so who cares if she has some
fun? Without any prodding, the wife has a moment of
total abandon. She suddenly exposes her breasts and
That puts him over the edge.
The poor gorilla is about to explode!! He is
climbing at the wall futilely and screaming with
passion!! Without warning the husband grabs his
wife by her arm and her belt and tosses her over the
railing into a moat below. She makes a huge splash
as she hits the water.
The Gorilla’s eyes bulge with
“Now, honey, go ahead and tell
that Big Ape you have a headache!!”
VOCABULARY WORD FOR THE
One of the worse things in
life is to be insulted and not know what the insult
is. I thought you might like to know what a
An evildoer, infidel,
heretic, villainous or base, vicious or depraved
person; someone who behaves badly, a scoundrel.
I just hope our “rag tag
miscreants of SSQQ” will be able to manage on our
And that’s a Wrap!
There were two
Newsletters in May
May Issue Two