March 2007
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The SSQQ Newsletter
Written and Edited by Rick Archer
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This is the March 2007 issue of the SSQQ Newsletter.

The major news this month continues to be about our SSQQ Cruises past and future.  In addition to our spectacularly successful late May trip to Hawaii, last month Marla announced our annual dance cruise aboard Carnival Conquest in late September.  She got 27 passengers for the Conquest in the first month, a very good start indeed.

Speaking of Cruises, there has a SHOCKING NEW DEVELOPMENT in the Rhapsody 2006 Hot Tub story.  Previously I announced that the record of 24 was invalid, but through the pleas of Jan Milz,
I realized that her husband Bob had made an incredible sacrifice to guarantee the record would be set!  I reviewed the facts and declared the record of 24 VALID thanks to the heroic efforts of Bob Milz. However you do not want to MISS the story of the sacrifices Bob had to make to secure the record. It is a heart-warming tale of bravery, sacrifice, dedication, and well... well... I think the guy deserves a medal... if we can just find a place to pin it!

Want to read to a story about the WORST MANAGED SHIP in the Royal Caribbean fleet? You should definitely check out the write-up on last year's New England Cruise. It is a pretty amazing story.

Last year about this time the Houston Chronicle named me one of its Valentines Day Matchmakers.  It was a nice honor.  In fact, I was so pleased with the recognition that I wrote the most extensive story ever about the history of SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance.  The SSQQ knack for creating marriages goes way back and this story details the events that helped create the SSQQ Romance Legend.

One extremely nice by-product of last year's story is that SIX different couples have emailed me to ask to either be included in the story or to have their stories updated.  One man in particular is Bob Job, my best friend from 20 years ago who had been missing for the past 15 years!  I updated his story and added the pictures of his beautiful home atop a Colorado mountain.

Another old friend of mine, Chuck Gray, went on to become one of Houston's best known therapists. Chuck also emailed to say hi. 

So what do Bob and Chuck have in common?   You guessed it - they both met their lovely wives here at SSQQ.  You will really enjoy reading their stories - there are several delicious surprises waiting for you to uncover!

SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance has been going crazy!  In the Newsletter we will announce 1 new wedding and 7 Romantic Stories!.

We have two Story in the News features this month.  One is a bizarre story about a
Court in New York that upheld ban on dancing in bars based on an obsolete law passed 80 years ago.  The other story explains why a gunman held up a bank so he could go to prison. Interesting story.

In February 25 brave SSQQ dancers headed over to Chandelier Ballroom for a fun night of Ballroom Dancing.  We are going to the Chandelier again on March 24, so check your calendar!  In the meantime, be sure to read this cute story.

On a dark note, on Wednesday, January 31, one dance student had their car towed by the Bellaire Police and another car was nearly towed.  The problem was caused when the City redesigned the NO PARKING zones on First Street without bothering to warn anybody.  This is an important story to read.

I had so many positive responses to my Book Review on Robert Ludlum last month that I was encouraged to do another Book Review.  This review covers a book mired in controversy known as "The Ruins".  Get this:  None other than Stephen King says this is the best horror book in ages. Quote: "The book of the summer.  The Ruins does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches."  On the other hand, noted feeble-minded Newsletter writer Rick Archer is also quoted: "This is worst book I have ever read."  You mind yourself laughing your head off as you read the story to decide who is right: Stephen King or Rick Archer.

On a second dark note, in 2006 SSQQ was forced to pay nearly $17,000 more in rent than we paid in 2005.  And it is starting to get even worse. If you wish to be informed why we were forced to raise our prices, you will get all the gory details in the Newsletter.

All of you out there who love the Complaint of the Month section should start rubbing your hands - we have a juicy one this month.  The guy calls Rick a liar, unprofessional, offensive... and that's just the tip of the iceberg!   There's plenty more nastiness to read all about!  woowee... don't wanna miss this one!

Hey, let's hear it for my friend Gareld McEathron - he won both awards: Best Joke Picture and Best Joke of the Month.  Way to go, Gareld!

Be sure to read all these stories and more at the March Newsletter!

Rick Archer

Here are the Chapters in this month's Newsletter:



(reprint from Feb)


SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE - 8 new stories!

A NIGHT OF BALLROOM DANCING AT THE CHANDELIER BALLROOM - next visit is March 24 (reprint from Feb)
(reprint from Feb)
STORY IN THE NEWS: Robber's wish to go to prison granted

JOKE OF THE MONTH: Gareld McEathron's Irish Bar Joke.  JOKE PICTURE: Gareld's "The Hungry Deer"



27 People as of February 25

Sunday, September 23rd thru Sunday, Sept 30th

This coming September, we will be taking our first Caribbean dance cruise aboard the beautiful Carnival Conquest. 

This is a somewhat  controversial move.  We have previously sailed on the Rhapsody four times and the ship feels like home. 

But the Rhapsody was inexplicably priced at a price $400 higher than the Conquest. 

We loved the Rhapsody, but at that price, I don't think anyone is going to question our judgment.

Although we have asked several people, no one has explained why Royal Caribbean priced the Rhapsody out of the market.  The ship will be repositioning itself to Asia this coming August.  We can only assume the high prices had something to do with the Rhapsody leaving the Texas market. Marla thinks 

So now we turn our attention to the Conquest.  This magnificent ship is much larger and much newer than the Rhapsody. 

I can think of three benefits to traveling on the Conquest right off the top of my head.

First, we finally get a chance to visit Jamaica (as well as Cayman and Cozumel).  This island is a tropical paradise.  There are some river rides and trips into the interior that promise a chance to see stunning beauty.

Second, we get to dance on stage!  Back in 2001 when we traveled with Carnival, we had the best time dancing on the same stage as the performers.  With the ship's orchestra playing a string of Big Band standards, we had a marvelous night of dancing at the Captain's Reception.  In fact, we danced so hard that there were hundreds of people sitting in the theater oohing and aahing at our moves.  In fact, many of these same people actually thought our group had been hired to put on a show! 

Third, the Conquest has an incredible water slide.  I can only wonder if Phyllis will find a way to stuff people in it.  Probably not.  If she can't get her picture taken inside the belly of a snake, why bother?

We took 136 people for our dance cruise aboard the Rhapsody in 2006.  The energy was unbelievable.  This trip promises to be just as exciting

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

(February 25 update: Rhapsody prices are still unreasonably high.)



HAWAII 2007    74 People as of February 25.

Saturday, May 26th to Saturday, June 2nd

When we first announced this trip in December, we had no idea that this trip would fill up faster than any cruise in our experience.  The response was simply phenomenal.  As I write, we have over 70 people going.  And here's the good news - there is plenty of room for more!

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

There is so much to see that you will go crazy having to pick from one exotic destination after another. Will it be a trip to explore a lush rain forest or an expedition to witness breathtaking waterfalls?  

Or will it be a chance to view orchid-scented botanical gardens or visit one of the many stunning beaches? 

Will you hike atop the lunar landscape of Hawaii’s lava fields or will you visit Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific?

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

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




The SSQQ New England was both amazing and frustrating at the same time. 

On the positive side, we had our chance to see the changing leaves in the fall and some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire country.  Visits to Martha's Vineyard, Acadia National Park, and New Hampshire's White Mountains revealed breath-taking vistas. New England is truly a gorgeous place to live.

We also got a chance to see history come alive with trips to Salem Village, New Brunswick, and of course by roaming around Boston.

However some of our excitement was tempered by the inexplicable rudeness and inefficiency of a cruise staff rumored to be the worst in the Royal Caribbean fleet.  You will simply have to read the story to understand the level of the incompetence we ran into.

Plus we had a couple who crashed our group even though we told them not to.  That was a weird event.

According to one person who commented to me, this was the most interesting cruise story yet.  The pictures alone are worth taking a look at and the story is equally good.  


SHOCKING NEW DEVELOPMENT:  Last month I inadvertently ruled that the new HOT TUB record of 24 was invalid.

That is when Jan Milz stepped up to report that her husband had made an incredible sacrifice to guarantee the record would be set!  I reviewed the facts and declared the record of 24 VALID thanks to the heroic efforts of Bob Milz.



Well, it took me a while, but my travelogue of the 2006 Rhapsody Reloaded Cruise is finally ready.   This August Cruise was an incredible trip.  It was without a doubt the most successful cruise trip we have ever taken. 

So what took me so long to put the story together?  I attribute my writer's block to 3 reasons.

First, my friend Gary Richardson put together an overwhelming CD collection of pictures.  Although I am grateful for all his hard work and the pictures were great, I felt kind of overwhelmed.  Gary's CD had over 1,300 pictures of 136 different people!  If you believe every picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how I didn't even know where to begin.

My second problem is going to sound silly, but it took me so long to format and post 650 pictures, I was so tired I didn't have much wind left.  Furthermore, since this was our fourth trip on the Rhapsody, it was difficult for me to find new things to say about the ship, the ports, the dancing, and the hot tub nonsense.  Maybe it is time to switch ships after all.

But the third reason is the real reason - I didn't have anything to talk about!  I have to tell you something - people have learned to keep their mouths shut around me.  I got the feeling all sorts of interesting things were happening all around me, but no one would talk.  I was unable to penetrate this conspiracy of silence.

It was a wonderful trip, but next time I am going to hire me an informant.  Then you will get a great trip writeup. 



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

For even more detail on many of the classes listed below, please visit  EXTRA

Special classes for MARCH include:

  1. ADVANCED SWING/JITTERBUG 2 on Sundays at 4:30 pm with Jack Benard.   We have three Swing classes on Sundays, but one of three is always held at 4:30.  This month the 430 slot is Advanced.
  2. SUPER GHOST TOWN 10 - Scott 
    In response to the request for Parallel Ghost Towns, we now will offer the same level on Sundays and Fridays. If you miss one day, you can make it up on the other. In addition Scott is likely to throw in a bonus pattern as well!
  3. BEGINNING BALLROOM II on Sundays at 7 will cover TANGO and CHA CHA. Jack Benard will be the teacher.
  4. INTERMEDIATE BALLROOM on Sundays at 7 will cover  FOXTROT, WALTZ, AND RUMBA. Jill Banta will be the teacher.
  5. ADVANCED BALLROOM II will cover ADVANCED TANGO and CHA CHA patterns.  Marla Archer will be the teacher.
  6. At 7 pm on Sundays, Dakota offers ACCELERATED BALLROOM WALTZ II.  Last month's Accelerated class had over 50 people.  For more information about this popular new program, you can read more about this at SSQQ BALLROOM PROGRAM
  1. Quick reminder that we will no longer be teaching SLOW DANCE as a regular four-week group class.  That said, there are special occasions like the First Dance at a wedding, a fancy New Years Eve party, a romantic standard at the Captain's Reception on a cruise, or a sultry torch song at a nightclub where the ability to Slow Dance would sure come in handy.  If you are getting married or would simply like to learn to Slow Dance, Marla Archer can teach you SLOW DANCE, WALTZ, or FOXTROT in a private lesson.  Contact her at   

    Marla teaches an average of 5 private lessons a week to couples who need to learn how to Slow Dance, Foxtrot, or Waltz at their Wedding Reception. If you know someone who needs to prepare for this important moment, read Marla’s story about her Wedding Dance experiences, please visit:  WEDDING LESSONS 
  2. Bryan and Lisa’s MARTIAN WHIP has moved to Mondays.  This turned out to be a very popular move as the class has grown to 40 people.  Not only do they love the class, Monday Night Whip Practice became a serious rocking event.  If you are an advanced Whip and West Coast Swing dancer, this is the place to be on Mondays!  By the way, Bryan recently finished in the Top 12 of the National West Coast Swing Championships.  In other words, Bryan is now one of the top 12 male dancers in the country.  Quite an accomplishment!
  3. Tuesday Salsa is phenomenal.  Each Tuesday, there is a Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Salsa class that average 80 to 100 people in each class.  In particular, Steve & Danielle conduct their elite Advanced Salsa class each Tuesday.  The Tuesday Salsa Practice Night hosted by Linda Cook is smokin’. 
  4. Scott Ladell teaches INTERMEDIATE NIGHTCLUB on Wednesdays.

    Danced to slow, romantic western songs, Night Club is an unusual dance that is best described as an "active" form of Slow Dancing.  Combining a special blend of Ballroom patterns taken from Rumba, Bolero, Foxtrot, and Waltz, Night club is a pretty dance to watch and fun to use. Nor is it difficult to learn.

    A unique feature of Night Club is that it is danced apart. This allows people without romantic partners to dance to Slow Music in a very stylish manner. You would be surprised at the number of songs that would normally be considered "Slow Music" that suddenly become exciting to dance to once you master this unique dance.

    In recent years, Night Club has become a fixture on the Country-Western competition dance circuit. It works perfectly to Western ballads such as "Breathe" by Faith Hill.
  5. Linda teaches GHOST TOWN 2 in February. Call it “Ghost Town Lite” or “Training Wheels Ghost Town” since this class is only slightly harder than our Advanced Western Swing classes.
  6. Martian Technique continues on Thursdays in February with Dakota. Martian Technique is an advanced program for the graduates of our Basic Beginner thru Lunar program.  It moves faster than Lunar Whip, but nowhere near as fast as Martian Whip.  In other words, this class helps people bridge the gap between our Basic West Coast Swing Program and the highly acclerated Martian Whip.  Technique is a place where the classes are small and we can concentrate on polishing your skills while adding new material.  This month Dakota teaches his WEST COAST SWING SYNCOPATIONS AND TIMING class on Thursdays!
  7. Rick and Cher will teach INTERMEDIATE WESTERN WALTZ on Friday. Western Waltz is considered the "Romantic" Western dance. The stakes being what they are, no sensible man should ignore this important dance!  The moves are quite graceful and the music is very pretty.
  8. At the request of many Salsa students, Bjorn and Rebeca Bangstein have moved their Saturday Salsa Explosion on Saturdays to 2:00 pm. This has turned out to be a great move.  Not only did they have 40 students in their class, they all had plenty of room to dance!  This move allowed students to take both the Explosion class and the 4:30 Advanced Salsa class back to back.
  9. Rhythm and Blues Twostep is taught on Saturdays at 4:30 pm by Willie Bushnell and Willie GreenAlso known as "Swingout", Rhythm and Blues Twostep is a popular dance used in African-American nightclubs. Taught by Willie Bushnell, R&B Twosteppin' is a partner dance similar to Zydeco. The man and woman first dance in closed position, then the man "swings her out".



LUCK OF THE IRISH SWING AND ballroom dance party!

Saturday, March 17
9:15 pm - 11:30 pm,  $7 person

Swing mixed with Ballroom Music in Room One
All Swing music in Room 4.

(Wear some Green or Skip the Scene!)


INT FOXTROT - Rick Jack Marla
SWING ACROBATICS - Paul (cpls only)


Saturday, March 31
9:00 PM - 111:30 pm   $7 PERSON




Once upon a time, my best friend in the world was Bob Job.  We got into all kinds of trouble together and had lots of fun.  If his name is familiar, that might be for two reasons.  Bob helped me master the Western Swing when the dance first appeared in the universe back in 1980.

Bob is also well-known as the Mad Chemist responsible for the wildest SSQQ Halloween Party in history, the infamous Halloween Party from Hell. 

I lost track of Bob and his pretty wife Louise many years ago, but recently Bob emailed me and brought me up to speed.   The story of Bob Job is fascinating and I am sure you will enjoy the pictures of his house on top of a mountain!



Crystal High School is the only high school in Greenville, Tennessee.

On the eve of the recent tenth reunion of a Crystal High School class to be held on the school premises, the Fentons hosted a patio party for four other couples who were also attending the event, including the Browns.

To their surprise, the Fentons learned each person who came to the party had the same occupation as someone else.

In addition each also shared a hobby with someone else, although no husband and wife shared either occupation or hobby.

From the clues below, can you find each person's full name (one man is Ben and one woman is Darla) and determine their occupations and hobbies? (Among the group are two dentists, two amateur chefs, and two amateur golfers.)



PS - This one is a BEAST.


  1. Anita Leung
  2. Julie Amazing
  3. Norman Nolasco
  4. Eric Avera
  5. Randy Piniola
  6. Susan Arevalo
  7. Ann Faget
  8. Dave Baxter
  9. Ritesh Laud
  10. Daniel Leinhos
  11. Ed Beideman
  12. Julie Arthur
  13. Al Bahler
  14. Mara Rivas
  15. Jennifer Wise




09. 2006 slow dance and romance  PLUS 2007 SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE

Lots of people have been emailing me to ask why their story wasn't included in my famous Matchmaker article.  As a result, I added the stories of six different couples to my Matchmaker Saga.  Please be sure to check up on these neat stories about our friends from yesteryear!

Okay, I took a terrible picture of Jay.  I promise to take another one the first chance I get. 

Jay Schmieder and Elsa Aldrich are a 2002 SSQQ couple who flew under the radar.  I had no idea they had met and married until Elsa emailed me the good news last year.

This year they are taking classes again.  Elsa happened to see me and introduced Jay and herself to me. 

And look how they get rewarded - I took a terrible snapshot.  Please give me another chance!

One night in my Friday Western Waltz here in February, Jim McMahon and Lawren Kelly came up to to announce their engagment! 

I am betting they waltz at their wedding....


(Uh, Joy, if you are out there, study their picture.  This is how it done!)

And now for an interesting story.  Stan Bailey and Joy Todd either got engaged somewhere around Christmas time and immediately left town.  They won't send me a picture, I don't have an accurate story, and I don't even have any bodies because they skipped town!

Joy was a buddy of mine.  She was a vivacious, outgoing, mischievous character who claimed she wouldn't be hanging around Houston for long.  She was a contract nurse who moved around the country from job to job.  Her contract would be up soon.  She said she preferred this gypsy lifestyle because she had lost a wonderful husband to illness and did not want to settle down.  By moving around from job to job, she had an excuse not to get attached.  That was her choice. 

So imagine my confusion when one day Joy's friends Lawren and Jan announced that Joy was married or engaged to Stan, one of the guys in her western dance class.  I didn't even know she had a boyfriend!   Apparently the two of them left town to move to Arizona.  Talk about a 180 turn!  


Bob Job was my best friend twenty years ago.  Then he and his beautiful wife Louise (Campodonico) were transferred to Holland.

I lost track of them, but recently Bob sent me an email to report on his whereabouts - he and Louise live on top of a mountain in Colorado!

Bob sent some beautiful pictures.

Bob is famous in SSQQ lore for two reasons.  First, he helped me develop my Western Swing program back in 1981.  Second, Bob was the architect of the infamous Halloween Party from Hell back in 1981.

He was always getting me into trouble, by the way.

Read about Bob and Louise in two places:

Matchmaker   and scroll down.

The Story of Bob Job

Chuck Gray was one of my best friends back in the early Eighties.  Did you know he met his wife Laurie here at SSQQ?  I think it was around 1984, but I am not sure.

Chuck went on to become one of Houston's best known therapists.  In fact, Chuck was instrumental in helping a person who is VERY CLOSE to me get her head back on straight.

It is a very interesting story indeed.

Read Matchmaker  and scroll down.

Scott Lee and Judy Horton were a big part of the SSQQ fun in the mid-Eighties.  Since then they have had two great boys and moved over to Virginia. 

That doesn't keep Judy from hoping to say hi to her friends from yesteryear and let them know she is doing great.

Matchmaker and scroll down.

John Sarabia and Danee Usher were a big part of the SSQQ Studebaker Gang in the late Eighties.

Last year when I wrote a story about SSQQ marriages in my Matchmaker article, I left them out.

That's pretty stupid of me, especially after John sent me a wedding picture proving I came to their wedding in 1989!!  Yup, that's me in the background.

Pretty embarrassing!

This time I got it right.  I added their story.  I should have put in the Eighties, but you know what?  I put it in the Nineties where it fit better.

1989?  hmm. close enough.

Click Matchmaker Nineties

There is a good story behind this wonderful picture of Gayle and Steve Luber and their daughter Lindsey.

Gayle is in the SSQQ Halloween Hall of Fame for tossing M&Ms up in the air when a goblin tried to grab her in the SSQQ Haunted House.

I ate every one of those M&Ms the next day.

Not only is it a very cute story, it makes this picture with Steve and Gayle even more smile-provoking!  Visit two stories:

Tales of the SSQQ Halloween Party

Matchmaker Millenium Madness

Oh my goodness... Stuart and Diane Raef got married right under my nose back in 1998.  The whole world knew about it and no one told me.

Well, I finally got the story straight thanks to some help from Dianne.

Read the story!  Very cute.

Matchmaker Nineties




Court upholds N.Y. ban on dancing in bars
POSTED: 10:32 a.m. EST, February 23, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- Come and meet those dancing feet, up on 42nd Street -- but only in nightspots with special licenses.

The city's 80-year-old cabaret law banning dancing by patrons in ordinary bars and restaurants is legal, the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled Thursday.

The Gotham West Coast Swing Club and several people had sued, saying the law violated their constitutional right to free expression.

But the appeals court backed the law, which was enacted in the Prohibition era to crack down on speakeasies.

"Recreational dancing is not a form of expression protected by the federal or state constitutions," the court wrote.

City lawyer Norman Corenthal welcomed the court's decision, saying it upheld the city's right to enforce laws that protect residential areas from noise, congestion and safety hazards.

The plaintiffs claimed that in the 1960s, about 1,000 places legally allowed patrons to dance, but fewer than 300 such places exist now. They also had challenged the city's application of zoning laws, arguing it was arbitrary and capricious.

Norman Siegel, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he was considering an appeal.




Chandelier Ballroom is the name of an SPJST Lodge located in the Heights on 15th Street and Beale near Shepherd. 

Robert and Nancy Kaechler organized a group of us to go Ballroom Dancing on Saturday, January 15.  The idea went over very well - despite very well advertising, we had 25 people in attendance.

Jack Melick and his Orchestra played many Big Band favorites for Swing and Foxtrot. In addition there were songs for Waltz, Tango, Cha Cha and Rumba. 

The music was good, the floor was huge, and we had plenty of great dancers to share the evening with.  In other words, we had a great time!

Some people came as couples and some people came by themselves, but everyone danced with everyone as is the spirit of SSQQ.  No one sat still for long, I assure you.  And yes, some people were better dancers than others and yes, many mistakes were made. But you know what, no one minded?  We were there to have fun... and we did!

Good news - Robert Kaechler has organized another SSQQ visit to the Chandelier Ballroom on March 24 for a night of Ballroom Dancing

We will dance to the Big Band music of the Gary Henneke Orchestra as well as Foxtrot, Waltz, and so on

8:30 pm to midnight, $11 per person
All dances require evening attire
beer, set-ups, soda & ice at bar for sale

Chandelier Ballroom, SPJST Lodge 88,
1435 Beall Street, Houston, Texas 77008

2006 was the first year in the history of the studio where SSQQ introduced a complete Ballroom Dance Program.  I can't tell you how pleased I was to see that many people had been curious about Ballroom for some time and were more than happy to give it a try.

Houston, Texas, has had a long love for Western music.  Consequently, Western Dancing has dominated the dance landscape for the past 25 years.  To its credit, Western Dancing has made itself more interesting by incorporating the best of Ballroom Dancing.

For many years, SSQQ has seen great interest in Western Waltz, Western Cha Cha, and Night Club classes.  In other words, Ballroom Dancing has been popular at SSQQ for a long time, except that it has been disguised as Western Dancing.

However, true Ballroom Dancing differs from the Western version in certain ways.  For example, many of the Box patterns common to Waltz, Foxtrot, and Rumba are unavailable at a Western club because you will get run over.

Second, good Ballroom music is very pretty to listen to.  Don't get me wrong - there are some beautiful Western Waltz songs.  But there also some beautiful Irish Waltz songs. The point is - I like to dance to all kinds of music.  One night it might be George Strait, the next night it might be Frank Sinatra.  Why choose?  Have them both!

Third, Western dancing ignores Tango.  This sexy dance is just too much fun to do without. 

Fourth, once in a while it is downright fun to dress up and look good!  I can't tell you how much fun our dancers had on the last Rhapsody Cruise with Ballroom Dancing.  If it wasn't the Captain's Reception or the Crown and Anchor Ballroom Dance, then the Ballroom floor in the Centrum was crowded from wall to wall every night with SSQQ Ballroom dancers.

That ship was rocking as we danced the night away.  And we will do it again this year in Hawaii and aboard the Conquest.

I am thrilled to see that Ballroom Dancing has carved out a new niche at SSQQ.  This trip to Chandelier Ballroom was just a start.  I imagine the dancing will get more sophisticated throughout 2007 as Dakota Wilhelm's Accelerated class kicks in. 

In the meantime, each week we get better and better. Our weekly Sunday Night Ballroom Dance averages 70 people who thoroughly enjoy their night of Ballroom music and dance.  Come join us!

Doug and Sherry (?)

Viola and Ken

Paul and Jan

Laura (?), Doug, Terese, Nancy, Robert, Karen, and ??

Paul, Jan, Linda, Bill

?? and Jerry

Nancy and Robert

Marla and Rick

Jack, Jackie, and Hoover

Maggi, Karen, and Ken



On Wednesday night, January 31, 2007, the car of an SSQQ student named Maggi Dodds was towed from First Street by order of the Bellaire Police.

Adding insult to injury, Ms. Dodds was also ticketed for parking in a NO PARKING ANYTIME zone.

I did not witness Ms. Dodd's car being towed. Nor did I find out about this event until the next day. I believe Ms. Dodds car was gone before we even knew what was going on.

However at 9:15 that evening I did intervene in the towing of a second vehicle. In addition I engaged a Bellaire policeman in a lengthy conversation.

We saved the second vehicle from being towed, but the incident shook up everyone who witnessed the event. When the other people heard about it from me or the other witnesses, they too were shaken up.

Naturally this incident provoked a great deal of anger. The towing incident seemed so unnecessary that people questioned the judgment of the Bellaire Police Department and the City Government.

(The rest of this article contains maps, pictures, and several stories. If you are an SSQQ student, this is MUST READ because at issue is the safety of your vehicle. First Street Parking Problems





Before you read this story, you need to understand that Rick's opinion and that of the experts diverges radically.

If you continue to delve further, you will learn that this book threatened to rob Rick Archer of his sanity.

He began to doubt himself.  He began to wonder if the suggestions that he was stupid were really true.  How could Rick be so wrong and everyone else be so right?

It was like the Ghost of Robert Ludlum had descended upon Rick to explain once and for all that he was out of his mind. 

"Psst, Rick, you don't have a clue what you are talking about!  You are a moron."

Here are six opinions.  One is written by the leading horror novelist of all time.  Four other opinions are written by leading Book Critics.   The final opinion is written by yours truly, Rick Archer, aka the moron.

"A fast-paced suspense novel that grabs you and refuses to let go. . . Smith's characterization and timing - the ability to deliver one quick blow after another -makes the book so freakishly fun. . . . The story turns grotesque, but Smith's command of his characters and their demons is masterful. . . . The Ruins is chilling, an icy dissection of human nature in a hot, horrifying place."

-John Caniglia, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Don't start this book if you're especially weak of stomach or nerves, and above all don't pick it up if you're not willing to tolerate some deviation from the usual conventions of thrillers and horror stories. . . . The escalating nightmare of the group's fate evolves inexorably from their personalities, in a way reminiscent of Greek tragedy... Scott Smith shows us an aspect of ourselves and of human nature we'd rather not acknowledge."

-Laura Miller, Salon

"The action is swift and the suspense is positively unflinching . . . Smith's nail-biting tension is a pleasure all its own and what fans of the genre expect.  No let up and no let down- this stuff isn't for the faint of heart."

-Peter Pavia, New York Post

"It's Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs) meets Poe in a decidedly timely story: Smith has tapped into our anxieties about global warming, lethal weather, super germs -our collective fear that nature is finally battling back- and given us a decidedly organic nightmare.   Grade: A-!

-Gillian Flynn, Entertainment Weekly

"The book of the summer.  The Ruins does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches."

-Stephen King

"This is the Worst Book I have ever read.  It is a true Horror Book, but only in the sense that it is Horrible.  The Ruins will lead you to your Ruin.

If you see it on the bookshelf, don't touch it.  Run for your life. And don't look back.  Leave the bookstore as fast as you can.  Get in your car and drive away while you still can... "

Rick Archer.   You have been warned.

Okay, you have read the opinions of six people.  Who are you going to believe?


Rick Archer's Book Review on The Ruins

Back in the Nineties, Scott Smith wrote a fascinating book called A Simple Plan. The plot revolved around greed, a sort of modern Treasure of Sierra Madre.  It was such a good book that it was made into a movie with Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton. The movie was just as good as the book.

So imagine my excitement when Scott Smith came out with his next book twelve years later. Yes, that's right, 12 years later. Most writers can't wait to take advantage of the momentum generated by a hit book like A Simple Plan, but Mr. Smith did it his way.

Based on the brilliance of the first book, I bought The Ruins without giving it a second thought.

The first thing I noticed about The Ruins was that it was long. A Simple Plan had been short and left me begging for more.  But this book made War and Peace seem like a novelette. Someone had been doing a lot of writing. Maybe that's why there was twelve years between books.

The story started off slowly. It revolved around four recent college graduates who were exploring Mexico. A German guy they met asked them for help - his brother had turned up missing. The brother had followed some girl he met to an archeological dig.  Fortunately the brother had left a map. So the Group decided to visit the Mexican jungle in search of the missing man.

Once they got to the brother's last known location, some local Indians suddenly trapped the Group in a valley.  From here, the rest of the book explained how the Group was systematically devoured by a vine.

But this vine wasn't just your ordinary man-eating plant. This vine could also talk. In fact, the vine was something of a troublemaker. The vine would overhear conversation supposedly said in confidence.  The vine figured out that if the members of the group started to fight amongst each other, their will would be snapped and they would put up less resistance.

So the vine became a floral version of Joan Rivers. It enjoyed listening in on every conversation hoping to get some more dirt.  You almost thought it wanted to be a Grapevine, not a man-eating vine.

Now the vine would mimic parts of the conversation to another member of the Group in an attempt to cause discord.  Amazingly, the vine was so smart it knew exactly which part of the conversation would hurt the worst.

Well, the vine's clever strategy worked!  Everyone began to bicker.

Here's an example of how it all worked.

One day Stacy and Eric decided to drown their misery in some Tequila they brought along for the trip.  Because the German guy had got them into this mess, they were kind of mad at him.  So once they got drunk, they started calling Heinrich "Herr Hitler" and "The Teutonic Plague", stuff like that. The vine loved it!

So the vine… which is everywhere… relayed this information to Tendril 2 sitting next to the German.  Tendril 2 repeated word for word what Stacy and Eric had said.  Now the German got his feelings hurt and started to swear in German. Tendril 2 relayed the German cuss words back to Tendril 1.  Now Tendril 1 began to swear to Stacy and Eric in German. I mean, this vine is so smart it even understands German!  That's impressive, yes? 

Listening to the German profanity,
Stacy and Eric realized the vine had told Heinrich everything they said. Oh no!  How would they ever explain to him they didn't really mean what they said?  Now everyone was depressed and the Vine was practically rubbing its tendrils together with glee.


Did I mention I listened to this book on audio CD? Listening to books on tape helps me avoid my feelings of impatience at all the delays caused by construction.

One morning my daughter Sam got in the car so I could take her to school. By chance, the German swearing episode was playing on my car's radio.  "Gott in Himmel!  Geseicht!  Das ist Schrecklich!  Himmeldonnerwetter!  Ich bin Zornig!"

Sam's eyes bulged. "Hey, Dad, what are you listening to?"

I quietly explained it to her.

"You are listening to a book about a vine that spreads gossip and swears in German so that it can eat people once they are too depressed to fight back?"

I quietly nodded that was essentially correct.

"What else has happened so far?"

"Well, one guy got a cut on his knee and the vine snuck in and lives in his body now. He periodically tries to cut it out only to find there are other vines growing in him.

"You're kidding. That's pretty morbid.  What else is going on?"

"One day the vine imitated a cell phone ringing at the bottom of the well.  When the Group tried to descend to see who was calling them in the middle of the jungle, the vine used its acid to sabotage the rope and it snapped in two.  A guy fell down the well and broke his back.  He was paralyzed.  One night when the Group was sleeping, the vine ate all the flesh off his legs. But it didn't bother him any because he couldn't feel a thing."

"Yuck. That's gross!  Hmm. That vine sure is clever. The vine has all sorts of tricks.  Why don't they just leave?"

"There is only one guy who ever bothers to try to escape. The other five just sit there feeling sorry for themselves because their feelings keep getting hurt by the vine's mean tricks.  One day when the guy tried to sneak past the Indians, the vine pretended to be a bunch of birds and used bird calls to alert the Indians. The guy kept wondering where all the birds came from and why he couldn't see them."

"So the Indians protect the vine, right?"

I nodded.

"Does the book explain why the Indians are buddies with the vine?"


"Does the book explain where the vine came from?"


There was silence for a while.  We were getting closer to her school.  Then my daughter started asking more questions.

"C'mon, Dad, what else?"

I frowned.  "There was a chapter that dealt with distilling their own urine since they didn't bring enough water."

"Yuck."  Then she stared at me and caught me grinning.

"Okay, Dad, spill the beans.
I know there is something you aren't telling me.

I hate daughters that can read my mind. "Well, one night a couple of them tried to have sex, but the vine kept getting in the way."

Sam stared at me. "You're making this up, right?"

I said nothing.

"What's the name of this book?"

"The Ruins."

"What part do the ruins play in the story?"

"There haven't been any ruins."

At this point, my daughter began to laugh. "You realize I am an officer in the Upper School Book Club, right?  Maybe we might want to read this book."

I said nothing.  I was worried about where this was going.

"So let me get this straight. If I have heard you correctly, The Ruins is a book with no ruins and Indians that are friends to the vine.  The central character is a vine that cusses in German, likes to hurt people's feelings, pretends to be a cell phone, likes to inhabit bodies, does bird calls, sucks flesh off paralyzed people, and interferes with their sex lives.  Did I miss anything?"

"Uh no, that's about it."

"What kind of reviews did the book get?"

"Incredibly good reviews. Look for yourself at the book cover. Stephen King called it best suspense novel since Jaws."

Sam inspected the book cover and read the reviews. "Hmm. Sounds interesting.  You have told me the goofy stuff, but is there any suspense?"

"There is no suspense.  The guy tries to write horror, but it is too ridiculous to take seriously. It is the most boring book I have ever listened to.  All I can think is 'when will this book ever end?'"

"Why do you keep listening?"

"I am hoping there is a good ending. I mean, how could it get reviews like that and not pick up the pace?  I keep waiting for the good part."   I thought about her question some more.  "No, that's not the only reason.  I keep listening because I am trying to figure out how the author of such a great book can turn around and write the worst book I have ever come across."

At that point, the vine started cussing in German again. It was so ridiculous that I started to shake my head in exasperation. Seeing my frustration, my daughter began to laugh.  The more the vine started to cuss, the worse it got.  In fact, Sam began to laugh so hard her sides hurt.  Then she started to cough and turn purple for lack of oxygen.  She couldn't even breathe she was laughing so hard!  Finally I had to turn off the book to help her regain control.

I dropped Sam off at school and headed home.  In my rear view mirror, I could see she was still giggling.

Needless to say, her mirth ruined my morning. No one likes to be laughed at. As I got up on the freeway, I made a decision.  From now on I would listen to one minute of each chapter. If nothing interesting developed in one minute, I would skip to the next chapter. Using this technique I shortened the next three hours of listening time down to about 30 minutes. I finished the book that night on my way home from the studio.


The only member of the group with any guts got shot to death trying to escape. He never had a chance - the vine tipped off the Indians he was coming. Then the vine ate the three remaining members of the Group who put up no resistance. So much for the human spirit trying to fight back against evil.  A few days later some friends of the Group showed up looking for them and the vine ate them too.  

Therefore the Vine is still there in the Mexican Jungle waiting for more victims.  If this novel were to be expressed in football terms, the final score was

Vine: 15 Kills,  Indians: 2 Kills (assisted by the Vine's bird call),  Humans: No points. Not even a first down.

I can barely wait for the sequel.

This book totally demoralized me. I was humiliated that I was stupid enough to hang around all the way to the end.  Someone with self-esteem would have chucked the book long ago.

In fact, I was so angry at the ending and so traumatized by the utter stupidity of this book that I was unable to listen to another book for three weeks. I was actually AFRAID to put another book in my car's CD player!  What if the next book was as bad as this?

Every day I just sat there in traffic mumbling to myself about The Ruins.  I looked at the half-dozen unread audio books sitting on my back seat.  But when I went to open one, I trembled for fear of getting burned again so I put it back. 

Finally, in desperation, I started listening to sports talk shows on the radio… That only worked for a couple days. Soon the pain of listening to the constant stream of commercials got too much to bear.  That's when I finally decided to risk again.  I popped in a book called Wildfire written by Nelson DeMille. I knew he was the closest author to a SURE THING I knew. 

Sure enough, I
soon found myself riveted by his compelling plot. I was almost in tears with gratitude as the work of this master writer soothed my wounds.  I would live to read (or listen) to a another book again.

After I finished listening to Wildfire, I began to feel better.  Reading/Listening to Books wasn't so bad after all.  Now I allowed myself to think about The Ruins again.  There was something bothering me.  Why did this book get such good reviews?

What did other people think about The Ruins?  So one day I decided to indulge my curiosity.  I went to the Internet to find reviews on The Ruins.

Read for yourself.

1. "Simply the best suspense novel of this year-hell, of the 1990s. Think of James M. Cain, think of Thomas Harris-even think of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, to which Smith's book bears a weird thematic resemblance . . . think of whomever you want, but read this book. Better than any 'best-selling' suspense novel to hit the lists since Silence of the Lambs." - Stephen King

2. "The Ruins, the long-awaited second novel from the author of the acclaimed A Simple Plan, is more horror than thriller, a shift that most critics found intriguing. A few reviewers, ample with praise, even compared it to Joseph Conrad's incredible book Heart of Darkness." - Bookmarks Magazine

3. "The Ruins fulfills every expectation of a novel of suspense, leading the reader on a wild exploration of the banality of evil . . . Smith demonstrates the eerie ease with which the mundane can descend to the unthinkable . . . Smith's imagination never palls." - Publishers Weekly

4. "The reader is drawn along by fascination. It's like watching a train wreck: there is nothing to be done, but it is impossible to turn away . . . an almost tragic tale of pure greed . . . a truly compelling book…" - Chicago Tribune

5. "Smith turned heads with his gripping first novel, A Simple Plan (1993). His second novel proves worth the 13-year wait. The Ruins is a tour de force of terror, a novel that seduces, shocks and dares you to keep reading -- and never relents, not even on its final page. Like A Simple Plan, it's driven by a keen sense of character, the collision of the mundane and the extraordinary, and an abiding fascination with choices and their consequences. Only one word does justice to Scott Smith's instant classic The Ruins, and it's the last word to leave the lips of Joseph Conrad's Mr. Kurtz: horror." - The Washington Post's Book World

6. "The year's finest literary shivers . . . A beautifully controlled piece of writing, all the more impressive for being the debut of its author." - Entertainment Weekly

7. "This novel works a devastating variation on the idea of the banality of evil . . . Beautifully controlled and disturbing . . . Cunningly imagined." - The New York Times Book Review

8. "It is remarkable to read such a terrifying work expressed in such a seductively reasonable voice. A work of singular power, carrying within it a moral that might well be a metaphor for a society in love with wretched excess." - The Washington Post

9. "Electrifying . . . An eerily flat confessional whose horror is only deepened by its flashes of tenderness. Think of a backwater James M. Cain, or a contemporary midwestern Unforgiven - and don't think about getting any sleep tonight." - Kirkus Reviews

10. "Astonishing." - Vanity Fair

11. "That rare and satisfying combination: a compulsive thriller which also happens to be a beautifully-written and original work of art." - Robert Harris

12. "One of the most terrifying, creepy, riveting novels that will hit the bookstores this summer… Smith sculpts each of the characters, making us care very much about what happens to these young, naive and sometimes selfish individuals… The Ruins has a claustrophobic feel, which adds to the palpitations of suspense." - The Sun-Sentinel

13. "It's a foregone conclusion that The Ruins will become a major movie. The only question is when." -


  Stephen King, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune...

I assume you read the list above.  Those are some of the biggest names in Book Reviews.  I did not make those reviews up.  Absolutely not.  If you don't believe me, try "Googling" some of those reviews yourself.

As I read one glowing review after another, my mouth dropped open in shock.

Did they read the same book I did?  Are these people out of their minds?  

Or am I out of my mind?

Did I let my kid intimidate me into my bad attitude?  

What are the biggest names in the business seeing that I am not seeing?


I was having a major attack of "Cognitive Dissonance."

Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological condition which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you know or believe versus new information or interpretation that challenges your beliefs.  

I was having a MAJOR attack of Cognitive Dissonance. 

When it came to The Ruins, someone was right and someone was wrong.  So far the Vine was winning and I was losing.  Gott in Himmel!

This was the WORST BOOK I had ever read!  How could I be so wrong?  Why couldn't I get anyone to agree with me? 

So I thought about it some more.  Last month I

I had visited the official web site of The Ruins.  I had visited   I had visited,, and so on.  Something was bothering me.  What was it??

Hmm, maybe these sites only published the kind of reviews which might help sell the book.

You don't think they would omit any negative reviews, would they? 

So I decided to go back to the Internet and dig deeper. I started opening pages that seemed to have less to do with selling the book.  That's when I came across a spot that printed the reviews of readers, aka NON-professional book reviewers… or should I say, 'people like me'.

Here is what they said:

1. Mary S
Mon, Aug 28, 2006 at 11:19 AM EDT
"The characters are completely uninteresting. I'm donating the book to my neighborhood library after having read to page 50. Sorry, Scott Smith, not good. A-? No way. I would say C-!"

2. Mark
Fri, Aug 25, 2006 at 7:47 AM EDT
"I liked the Ruins, but the horror was just lukewarm, and any sort of explanation or investigation of the plant's origins was zilch. The plant was intelligent, so why didn't it just kill all it's victims right off the bat? Then it could have been a short story and saved us a lot of time."

3. micki
Thu, Aug 24, 2006 at 10:33 PM EDT
"I only read this book because Stephen King highly recommended it… well tsk tsk Stephen! Shame on you. It certainly wasn't worth all the hype it got. Weak characters, unanswered questions, no plan to try to fight back, I could go on and on. They could have took the arrows from the dead people and made a bow to kill some of the mayans or at least try SOMETHING, ANYTHING. Don't just give up. I hated that they didn't fight back enough. I really hated that everyone died. Overall not a very good book."

4. HP
Wed, Aug 23, 2006 at 10:03 AM EDT
"Stacy and Amy seem like the same person. Very poor characterization. The situation is too unrealistic, the people too passive. No plotting to detroy the vine, or kill the Mayans. Silly."

5. Lulu
Mon, Aug 21, 2006 at 12:32 PM EDT
"Don't believe the hype! If I submitted this story in my Freshman 101 Creative Writing Course, I would have received a C-. Weak characterization, no story development and no skill whatsoever in 'selling' the horror. This story requires a huge suspension of belief in order to work, but the writer does nothing to help us buy into the fantasy. Therefore the story becomes absurd instead of scary. It adds up to a big mess."

6. Billy Mulligan
Mon, Aug 14, 2006 at 11:53 AM EDT
"I had trouble taking this book seriously. I think Smith wanted us to be laughing the whole way through. I mean, seriously - killer/thinking vines? C'mon, isn't this B-horror movie stuff? If this is turned into a movie, doesn't it have to be more CABIN FEVER than straightforward horror???"

7. Frank
Wed, Aug 16, 2006 at 9:21 AM EDT
"BORING !!!!!!!! Don't waste your time or money on this piece of trash. He must have written it in 6 had no substance, he kept repeating himself (something a very bad writer often does) and worst of all, you get so exasperated when nothing happens with the storyline that you hope the darn vines get everyone 'SOON' so it will all end and we can get on to another book!"

8. Jayson
Thurs, Aug 24, 2006 at 10:42 AM EDT
"This is one of the worst books I have ever read. The story is slow, predictable, and lacks character development. As good as A Simple Plan was is, as bad as The Ruins is."

9. A reviewer
"Run, don't walk away from this book. Don't waste the time or the money. Very redundant, long, unrealistic, concept. However I did continue reading out of curiosity to see how it ended. That too was disappointing. We waited 13 years for this?"

10. A reviewer
"Don't waste your money on this book. Can't get through it. All of the reviews about this book rated it a 'must read'. I've only gotten half-way through it and have put it down. It's boring!"

11. Did Not Live Up To Reviews
"I can count on one hand books I picked up and did not finish. I did not want to finish this one. Unfortunately it was a book club pick and I felt committed to seeing it through to the end, waiting for some fantastic twist of plot that would make it worthy of some of the reviews I had read. There weren't any."

12. Deadly Dull
"Wow, I haven't been this disappointed in a book for quite some time. After reading numerous glowing reviews, I picked up The Ruins & dove in, expecting an exciting read. Instead, I found myself racing to the end, hoping that the story would improve, or that something, anything, would happen that would make me care about the characters. Unfortunately, I reached the end and felt nothing but relief that the book was over, and annoyance at myself for falling for the hype surrounding this book."

13. A reviewer
"Not good!!!! Really enjoyed it to begin with then it totally went down hill towards the end. What a ridiculous ending - I was not impressed!!! Save your money."

14. C. Jolliff
"The Ruins...ruined my first impression of Scott Smith. I must admit that, after reading A Simple Plan and waiting a decade for another novel, I was looking forward to The Ruins. What an incredible disappointment. This is Little Shop of Horrors re-written by a Stephen King wannabe. The characters are shallow and unimaginative. I never formed any type of (love/hate/mild interest) relationship with any character. Don't waste your time or money on this dime store 'novel'. Think I'll go re-read A Simple Plan and figure out how the same author could be so brilliant and so pathetic. I almost wonder if it is really the same writer."

As you can see, now we have some people who were singing my song.  I rest my case.

I do not know what those Book Reviewers based their opinions on, but I have never lost more respect for a group of professionals in my life.  What were they thinking?

So now that you have read my story, who do you believe - Stephen King or me?

Care to share your opinion?  Email Rick Archer at


14. story in the news: Robber's wish to go to prison granted
Sent in by Phyllis Center of Attention Porter

Robber's wish to go to prison granted

(10/16/06 - COLUMBUS, OH) - A man who couldn't find steady work came up with a plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social Security: He robbed a bank, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.

On Wednesday, Timothy J. Bowers told a judge a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.

"At my age, the jobs available to me are minimum-wage jobs. There is age discrimination out there," Bowers, who turns 63 in a few weeks, told Judge Angela White.

The judge told him: "It's unfortunate you feel this is the only way to deal with the situation."

Bowers said he had been able to find only odd jobs after the drug wholesaler he made deliveries for closed in 2003. He walked to a bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash in an envelope. The teller gave him four $20 bills and pushed a silent alarm.

Bowers handed the money to a security guard standing in the lobby and told him it was his day to be a hero.

He pleaded guilty to robbery, and a court-ordered psychological exam found him competent.

"It's a pretty sad story when someone feels that's their only alternative," said defense attorney Jeremy W. Dodgion, who described Bowers as "a charming old man."

Prosecutors had considered arguing against putting Bowers in prison at taxpayer expense, but they worried he would do something more reckless to be put behind bars.

"It's not the financial plan I would choose, but it's a financial plan," prosecutor Dan Cable said.




 Note: Longtime readers of Rick Archer's Travel Writeups will know that Rick believes actual Zombies live in Key West.  This recent story does nothing to dispel his concern.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [
Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2006 6:56 PM
To: a Rick
Subject:  catfight at hemingways key west

Aug. 17, 2006, 12:08AMA
Catfight at Hemingway's - Feds contend the author's home and museum must have a license to show the famous felines

Orlando Sentinel

KEY WEST, FLA. - For more than 40 years, they have lounged on Ernest Hemingway's bed, lolled in his garden, and sipped water from the urinal he dragged home from his favorite saloon - all to the delight of tourists from around the world.

But now the nearly 50 cats at The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, about half of whom bear a telltale sixth toe on their front paws, are felines non grata in the eyes of the federal government, must be better confined or kept under guard.

The reason? The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the author's one-time home in Key West needs a license to exhibit the descendants of the original polydactyl, or extra-toed, cat he is said to have received from a ship captain in the 1930s.

Without one, the USDA contends, the museum is violating the Animal Welfare Act and subject to a daily fine of $200 per cat - nearly $10,000 a day. But unless it contains the free-roaming cats, the museum can't get a license.

"They're operating illegally," said USDA spokesman Jim Rogers. "They don't have an exhibitor's license. An exhibitor is anyone that exhibits animals to the public that we would regulate. This would include zoos, circuses and magicians or anyone who uses animals in their acts, or in their advertisements."

The Hemingway Home clearly features its world-famous felines in its brochures and on its Web site, but the managers insist the law applies only to animals bought or sold in commerce. Their cats, they say, are merely residents of the house, who, like their ancestors, were born and will die on the property.

"They're not on exhibit there. They live there," said museum CEO Mike Morawski, whose great-aunt purchased the Hemingway house after the author's 1961 suicide in Idaho. "Visitors enjoy the links to history, and we talk about the Hemingway cats just like we talk about his wives and his pool."

Taking their catfight to court, museum officials asked a federal judge last month to decide whether the animal-welfare law applies to the museum and if so, to rule that the 6-foot brick wall Hemingway built in 1937 meets the "containment" requirements for exhibition animals.

"It's beyond insane," said Cara Higgins, the museum's lawyer. "This is the same agency that quit researching mad-cow disease because of money ... "

That sentiment is widespread in Key West, a town that takes its cats seriously, dressing them up for Easter parades and displaying their visages in books and gallery windows. None, though, are more treasured than the Hemingway house cats.

"What a joke," said innkeeper Tom Coward, who is still miffed that two government agents rented a room overlooking the Hemingway property to videotape the cats. "With all the other problems we have, I think it's just plain silly."

(EDITOR'S NOTE: A few years back, I wrote about another important issue in Key West: which bar had the legal right to claim itself as the authentic Ernest Hemingway Drinking Hole.  It was hot debate to be sure.

Now as I read the story of the catfight, I am more convinced than ever before that no one has anything to do in Key West... which lends credence to the theory that ACTUAL ZOMBIES may live there. RA)









18. COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH ONE - WHY ARE THE SSQQ PRICES SO HIGH?   (reprint from February with updates)

-----Original Message-----
From: Yvonne E
Sent: Monday, February 05, 2007 9:48 PM
Subject: Question for Rick Archer

I would like to know why the SSQQ tuition has gone up again. Are you trying to buy a new house or is child support eating you alive?

All I ever read in your newsletter is how big your classes are and how parking is so terrible because boohoo you have more students than you know what to do with.

Well, maybe someone needs to tell you not everyone in Houston is living high on the hog.  Consider this:  There was a time when a single woman on a tight budget could squeeze in a dance lesson at your place and still be able to eat and put a roof over her head. I am retired now and living on a fixed income.  These days with gas going up, I am lucky to still be able to eat.  We won't talk about the roof.

I used to be able to take two or three classes a week. Now I just come to Friday night Western dancing and hope I can find a class that needs a volunteer. I have been around SSQQ long enough to remember when classes were about $30 back in the 1990's.

You ever thought of creating a scholarship program?

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, February 6, 2007 10:57 AM
To: Yvonne E
Subject: re: Question for Rick Archer

I am sorry you are upset, Yvonne.  I definitely see your point. 

In defense of my business decision to raise the rent, I have a statistic to share with you:

$16, 695.

SSQQ paid nearly $17,000 more in rent in 2006 than it did in 2005.  There is a reason for this ridiculous increase.

I wrote extensively about my Landlord problems back in 2006.  You can read the whole story by clicking Landlord Disputes or simply read this abbreviated version.

In 2004, a new landlord took over operation of the Bissonnet Shopping Center.  I have a theory that Lenox Hill, owned by Jacob and Haya Varon, purchased this property as the final piece of the puzzle.   First they bought a building next to Bissonnet Shopping Center that faces First Street.  This business had its own parking lot.   Then they purchased the Door Warehouse property and turned it into a hospital.

But the hospital had absolutely no parking of its own.  However the Bissonnet Shopping Center adjacent to the hospital did have parking.  It doesn't take a genius to put two and two together - it is likely the Bissonnet Shopping Center was purchased in part to obtain parking for the hospital.  Unfortunately the City of Bellaire hasn't helped much - the City removed valuable street parking right next to the Doctor's Office and the Hospital.  The Hospital was so strapped for parking I heard they had to rent parking space at the bank down the street.  This reinforces my theory that parking is as valuable to the landlord as a stream might be on the property of a farmer or rancher.

After building the lovely hospital, the landlord set about improving the Bissonnet Shopping Center.  The rumor is that they would like to turn the Bissonnet Shopping Center into doctor's offices at some point.  In November 2005, I asked to extend my lease.   They turned me down, saying it was not in their best interests at the time to do so. Therefore I am down to the final two years on my lease.

However just because they intend to get rid of SSQQ doesn't keep them from passing on all maintenance costs to my business. For example, the value of the Bissonnet Shopping Center went up because the Doctor's Office and the Hospital were now adjacent.  That makes all three properties more valuable, so the City of Bellaire raises the property value.  And now that the property is more valuable, taxes go up. And as the largest tenant, the landlord passes on 33% of the tax hike to me.

So imagine how I felt when the landlord began to install expensive new lights in the parking lot and handed 33% of the bill to me.  Nice lights, but we didn't need them.  The problem is that Lenox Hill makes whatever improvements it wants, then passes on one-third of the bill to me.  This practice improves their property immensely, but remember I will be gone in two years.

I feel used.

SSQQ had to absorb a $17,000 rent increase for 2006.

And guess what?  The nightmare is not over.

And imagine how I felt when I discovered my 2007 rent was going up another $350 a month back in January.  They were going to put in even more lights and repave the parking lot.  The estimate for these upgrades was another $20,000 out of my pocket.

In case you think I make this stuff up, read for yourself.

January 2, 2007

Dear Tenant,

We would like to advise you that parking lot repairs will begin soon, hopefully starting early in January. The work will be done in three stages in order to minimize any inconvenience to you and your customers, additionally this will allow us to continue providing as much parking as possible during this process.

We obtained a number of bids and the best qualified and lowest bids amount to $66,347.79 ($2.692 per sq ft) approximately. This estimate includes:

  1. Removal of existing surface and resurface the parking lot with asphalt
  2. Re-striping of parking spaces
  3. Concrete reinforcement for dumpster
  4. Dumpster enclosure (as per city of Bellaire requirements)
  5. Repair curbs
  6. Install and increase exterior parking lot lighting

    As per the lease contracts, (see page 2, section 2.3) these repairs are reimbursable from all tenants, each tenant’s portion is pro rated based on their total square footage.

    Enclosed please find a copy of the lease pertaining to this. In order to facilitate payment of these repairs, Lenox Hill Holdings will amortize the expenses for five years, as per the lease. The monthly expenses will be added to the rent invoices once the repairs have begun.

    The proportionate share of the renovation for SSQQ is of $20,997.60, payable over 5 years at $349.96 (calculated for 7800 sq ft).

    Please contact us with any questions. We are confident that the repairs described above will add to the professional business environment of the Shopping Center.


    Lenox Hill Holdings

One particular issue is that the Hospital is now sharing the parking lot that used to belong exclusively to the Bissonnet Shopping Center.  I am not positive what the exact status is, but my hunch tells me that the Hospital should be picking up a part of this parking lot repair tab.

In the meantime, I will be gone in two years and they will have a beautiful new parking lot courtesy of SSQQ and the other businesses that will also probably be shown the door as their leases expire.

So now you know why I have raised my prices.

Perhaps someone out there has a solution. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Lou Weissman
Sent: Sunday, February 11, 2007 10:01 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: February 2007 SSQQ Newsletter

I just read your monthly newsletter. In the past, I read a complaint lodged by some of your clientele regarding the price they had to pay to attend your parties. Now, I have read a complaint about what you are charging for classes. I am amazed to hear such complaints. Perhaps the two biggest bargains in Houston are dance lessons and your practice parties.

Dancing is a life long skill. I kick myself in the ass every time I think about how I failed to take dance lessons earlier in life. Dancing is considered a great "social skill". Knowing how to dance allows one to move about much more gracefully both on the dance floor and off it. Through dancing, I have met a number of wonderful people including my ex-wife and my current girl-friend. It shocks me that anyone could consider the current rates to be unreasonable. The benefits of learning how to dance in a great social environment far outweigh the prices you charge. People who complain about the price of dance lessons must be unable to appreciate the truly great value that dance lessons represent. In your newsletter, you cited 5 couples who met through dancing and are now either married or engaged. I wonder if they think you are charging too much.

As for your practice parties, I have always felt they were just a terrific bargain.




-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2007 8:01 PM
Subject: Refund request

On may 5th I called your offices and spoke to a very nice gentleman about buying a beginner set of dance lessons for my wife and I for our anniversary. He told me I was in luck that since the superbowl was the prior evening, classes had been cancelled and the new month was starting the following Sunday 2/11.

He walked me through the online system and I bought our lessons.

We showed up that Sunday night at 6:45pm. Within the first 30 minutes of being at the ssqq studios we we were sent to 4 different rooms and as a result we found that there was NO beginners class. We also learned that the classes for the prior Sunday were held and that the only class available for us was the intermediate.

We would like to have our monies returned because what we were told, what we purchased was not what we received.

We would consider coming back.

Please refund us our $90

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 5:52 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Refund request

I apologize for the confusion, but there WAS a beginners class on Monday. I suggest you simply start over in March. There will be no charge.

Beginning Swing will be held on Sundays at 430 pm starting March 4 or Mondays at 7 pm starting on March 5.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 8:13 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Refund request

Rick there was no beginners class. We went to the front desk 5 times, we
went to every dance room we even had an instructor help us try to locate it.
Again please refund us our monies

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 10:32 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Refund request

In February there WAS a beginner class at 7 pm on Sundays and Mondays. I know this for a fact because I taught the one Sunday myself and I heard the Monday class being taught in the room next to me. I do not understand what caused the confusion, but I would be curious to know the details to avoid a similar situation occurring in the future.

You are more than welcome to start over in March or at a later date.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 10:52 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Refund request

My wife and I went to the front desk 5 times and each time the lady sent me to a different room.
I went to the instructor of the intermediate and he walked us room to room looking for the class.
No one could find the class and several said it wasn't that night.
Are you not going to refund us our monies?
We will consider the march class but today we would like our money back

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 11:27 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Refund request

Mr. Baker, I checked with two instructors who were familiar with your story. They both confirmed that you were in Room One on Sunday of last week for your Beginner Ballroom class.

I recommend you start all over with Beg Ballroom in March. It will be much easier if you don't miss the first week. As I said before, there will be no charge.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 11:33 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Refund request

Chuck said his class was an intermediate class
I am asking again please credit my credit card
I have not lied or embellished our experience
I find this whole experience hard to believe...

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 12:58 PM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Refund request

That is not correct. JACK said you were in his beginner class all night long.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 1:07 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Refund request

Jack told us it was an intermediate class
Chacha and tango is not beginner ballroom

Why are you being so unfriendly to a new customer that simply wants to get it right

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 2:00 PM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Refund request

I am not being unfriendly. I told you are welcome to start over at no charge.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 2:06 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Refund request

So how are you processing my refund of $50 for my registration and $40 for my wife's?

I am still (after 7 emails) making this simple request.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 1:16 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Refund request

And jack said that this class we attended was the 2nd and that they HAD met superbowl sunday unlike I was told

Jack said it was not beginners ballroom

Jack did his best but we ere behind the eight ball all night and out of frustration left early

Your correspondence is becoming offensive

I am simply requesting a refund and we can start up again the proper way, why are you not helping

Why are you making this so difficult

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 3:21 PM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Refund request

Mr. Baker, you say my correspondence is offensive. That is strong language.

Why don't we take a look at this situation from my point of view?

We showed up that Sunday night at 6:45pm. Within the first 30 minutes of being at the ssqq studios we were sent to 4 different rooms and as a result we found that there was NO beginners class. We also learned that the classes for the prior Sunday were held and that the only class available for us was the intermediate.

In my opinion, your statement is preposterous. There WAS a Beginning Ballroom class that night. I know this because it took place in the room next to mine and I overheard the instructor addressing his class on several occasions. That makes me a "witness". Let me assure you that a BEGINNING BALLROOM CLASS WAS HELD IN ROOM ONE ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11, AT 7 PM.

"Chacha and Tango is not beginner ballroom."

You assert that "Chacha and Tango is not beginner ballroom". That is a direct quote from your previous email. Do you know something I don't know? When were these two dances declared off limits to beginners? Would you like to think that statement over some more and explain what you mean?

"We were sent to 4 different rooms and as a result we found that there was NO beginners class."

As for your contention that there was 'NO beginners class', I would like to point out that there are 60 people currently taking a Beginning Cha Cha and Tango class whose very presence indicates that you don't know what you are talking about. Given that you say you were sent from one room to another, I find it ludicrous that you were able to miss a 2,000 square foot room with 60 people in it taught by an instructor who is 6' 7".

Not only did you assert you were unable to find your proper class, your letters also suggest that you were given some sort of runaround. After I received your initial email, I was concerned that you were not treated fairly. So I got on the phone and spoke to two different instructors. They both remembered talking with you last Sunday, February 11, and they were quite familiar with your story.

Marla told me that Jack had personally escorted you to her room to get more information. Marla was forced to stop her own class to deal with your problem. While her students watched, she said the three of you engaged in a conversation right in the middle of her room. Marla understood that you were unhappy that a class had been conducted on Super Bowl Sunday. She indicated that if you wanted a Refund, all you had to do was walk back to the Registration Desk and get one on the spot. Let me repeat: Marla specifically told you how to get a Refund. However you changed your mind. Marla said that once you understood that Jack was going to review the material from the previous week, you AGREED to participate in the class. At that time, you voluntarily followed Jack back to his room.

Jack confirmed that you and your wife participated in his Beginning Ballroom class from that point on. Jack added that as promised, he covered the exact same material from the week before.

YOUR WORDS: "Chuck said his class was an intermediate class. I have not lied or embellished our experience. I find this whole experience hard to believe..."

Jack's statement and Marla's statement both directly contradict what you have told me. How do you explain that?

As for the Refund that you have requested, our refund policy states you must ask for the refund on the night of your class. It says so on your receipt.

* No Refunds after Class Meets for first time
* Please Switch Partners
* No Guests/No Watching
* No Children
* Please Bring Receipts
* Exceptions Must be Made in Advance
* No Registration After Week Two

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 4:26 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Refund request

This is getting comical

Maria simply sent me back to the same lady that sent me back to 4 different rooms looking for a beginners ballroom starting that night that did not even exist

You were the one I spoke to on the 5th of may

No wonder you are making a mountain out of a mole hill, your relentlessness to avoid my plea for a refund is a burden you are placing on my which is not only unfair. It is unprofessional

Please give me my money back

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 4:46 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Refund request



After seeing the way you run your business I am not surprised at all that we have had this sort of communication with you badgering me and refusing to respond to my initial request

A decent man would have simply returned the money.

I have a lot of friends that go to ssqq and many considering it.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 4:49 PM
To: Rick Archer;
Subject: Re: Refund request

And regarding runaround...yep we ran around your entire facility trying to find the beginners ballroom.

Jack's class was not it. He even said it was an intermediate class and even he said that the superbowl Sunday they DID hold a class.

So please stop trying to call me a liar.

Jack is a great guy but we have had an awful experience at ssqq, specifically your emails

It all starts with you and how you sold this package.

(Editor's Note: Well, there you have it.  This man's emails could be made into a game... Find the number of bad things that Rick was called...

I will go first.
I identified 7 bad things I was called.
1. I am a liar,
2. I am not a decent man,
3. I am deceitful,
4. I have badgered,
5. I am unfriendly,
6. I use offensive language,
7. I am unprofessional. 

Plus I have two new instructors named Chuck and Maria.

Can you beat my total?  If you find any more bad things I was called, be sure to email me at and report them to me for next month's Newsletter.  RA)



We publish one Picture Joke each month. The March picture joke is called "The Hungry Deer".  It was sent in by my friend Gerald McEathron.

SSQQ has acquired about 600 jokes over the last ten years.  Each month we roll another 50 or so for your reading pleasure.
Please visit our Joke Hall of Fame

This month Gareld wins both prizes.  Here is one of my favorite Hall of Fame Jokes taken from the March collection. Actually this Irish joke is brand new. Gareld sent it in a week ago.  With St Patrick's Day around the corner, I thought you would enjoy it.  

March BS 18: The Irish Bar - Gareld McEathron

John O'Reilly hoisted his beer and said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life between the legs of me wife!"

That won him the top prize at the pub for the best toast of the night! Another beer came sliding down the bar as his reward.

Proud of himself, O'Reilly went home and told his wife, Mary, "I won the prize for the Best toast of the night".

She said, "Aye, did ye now. And what was your toast?"

John hesitated, but thinking fast he said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life, sitting in church beside me wife."

"Oh, that is very nice indeed, John!" Mary said.

The next day, Mary ran into one of John's drinking buddies on the street corner.

Upon seeing her, the man chuckled and grinned at her leeringly. He said, "You know, Mary, your husband John won the prize the other night at the pub with a splendid toast about you."

Mary replied, "Aye, he told me, and I was a bit surprised myself. You know, he really doesn't spend much time there, maybe twice in the last four years. The first time he fell asleep, and the other time I had to pull him by the ears to make him come."


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

Oh, one more thing: by the way, that Rambo Granny story (#14) was complete nonsense according to, the Urban Legend web site.  I just didn't want to ruin a good story.

Rick Archer  (email)


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

Table of Contents
Bottom of Page CHAPTERS

(Note: for people visiting the SSQQ Newsletter for the first time, here are the favorite stories from previous issues)


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

I wrote about it in the newsletter at the time.  Dancing with the Stars 2005

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

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

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



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

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

If you want to read a funny story, visit MY GREATEST DANCE DEFEAT 



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

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

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

They say you can't fight City Hall. 

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

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

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

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

Email I sent to Judge Kathy Han:

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

Brian N

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


I will be curious to see if she responds.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Thanks again,  Mal C

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

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

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


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

Hi Rick...

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

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

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

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

Sincerely, respectfully, & with much gratitude,  mal



The Tale of Two Movies... Urban Cowboy Meets Risky Business

Written by Rick Archer
February 2007

This is the story about how a volatile mix of Four Women - a Beauty, a Tragic Lover, a Social Outcast, and a Mystery Woman - plus two huge Gambles - one professional and one personal - set Rick Archer on a wild Rollercoaster Ride...

... a Ride that culminated with Rick becoming Houston's best-known Western Dance Teacher even though he began teaching Western classes months before he knew how to Western Dance!

This wild tale explains how Houston's most famous dance studio came into being.


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