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The SSQQ Newsletter
Written and Edited by Rick Archer
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October 2008 SSQQ Newsletter Issue One
Written by Rick Archer


QUICK REMINDER: SSQQ 2008 CARNIVAL POST-CRUISE PARTY WILL BE HELD FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 9 PM. No charge if you were on either of this year's trips.


People at the studio have been sending me emails wondering why it has taken me so long to post the November schedule on the web site. These same people have also been asking where the SSQQ Newsletter has disappeared to. After all, I was sending out an issue practically every day for a while back there in September.

September. Hmm. Seems like years ago, doesn't it? As you may remember back from September, I was criticized for sending out too many Newsletters and sharing too many details about the untimely deaths of our friends Gary and Michael.

Well, quite frankly, I went into a tailspin after Gary and Michael's funerals. Too much Ike, too much depressing economy, problems with the landlord and so on. I didn't feel like writing anything. Nothing seemed important enough to talk about after what we went through. I am sure every one of you know exactly what I am talking about.

Plus I got a new computer from my friend Gary Richardson. It is a great computer, but it has two drawbacks. One, it uses the new Vista system... there is so much I cannot figure out! Fortunately as always Gary has shown infinite patience while I try to get a handle, but my confusion is limitless. None of the programs work exactly like they did on my previous computer. I hate change I hate change I hate change... you get the picture.

Also Gary installed a chess game on the computer. He thought he was doing me a favor, but it was an evil move. I love chess as long as I don't have to play humans. Dating back to my days as high school chess champion, I have long observed that humans get their feelings hurt when they lose. That includes me, incidentally. I hate to lose to humans. Hmm. Let me change that. I hate to lose to anything, man or machine. However, the nice thing about computers is they couldn't care less if I win and they don't make fun of me when I lose.

So I decided to try Gary's chess game. My goodness what a pathetic program; the computer chess game lost to me repeatedly at every level.

Ha ha. No challenge for an incredible player like me.

Then I reached Level Seven. At Level Seven I only won 1 of the first 10 games. Not only did I lose at an alarming rate, I realized the computer kept statistics including my cumulative score. There were no statistics at the lower levels because I didn't play each level more than a couple times. These Level Seven statistics revealed an alarming fact - I was getting beaten a lot!

Determined to teach Level Seven a lesson, I kept playing and playing. I got a little better, but after the first 100 games, I had only won 40 times. No one beats me 60 times out of 100. I was determined to show who the master was!

I went insane playing Level Seven day and night. End one game; start another. Marla, bless her heart, left me alone. She knows when I go autistic, it's better to cross her fingers and hope I return to my senses.

One week later I have now played Level Seven 450 times. Fortunately the computer plays the same moves so I have begun to get a bead on its strategy. That plus a liberal use of Control Z (the Take back button), my winning percentage has improved to 55%.

With my self-esteem somewhat restored, I am slowly regaining enough control of my sanity to put out a Newsletter.

But I had a nightmare last night. I dreamt I entered Level Eight.


Most of us aren't really quite in the Halloween mood yet. The depressing news on Wall Street is scary enough for most of us.

Also, we didn't catch any breaks from the Calendar. Our party will be held six full days before Halloween even hits, days we could have used to further encourage our Halloween spirit to reemerge. Oh well, look on the bright side - this frees you up for two weekends of Halloween Parties!

There is a hint of sadness in my heart about this year's party. Thanks to our ongoing problems with the landlord - stuff so awful I haven't even had the heart to write about yet - this may well be our final Halloween Party at the Bissonnet location. Hopefully there will be future Halloween Parties somewhere else, but my crystal ball is murky at the moment.

Since I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, if you are a big fan of the SSQQ Halloween Party, I encourage you to participate in what might be the end of an era.


A very popular feature of our Halloween Party is the Monster Mash and the other Halloween Line Dances. To completely enjoy our party, you should make an effort to learn these dances.

During the Halloween Party we turn the studio into a scene reminiscent of the famous "Thriller" video. Monsters line the floor to perform our Line Dances. What a treat it is to see Frankenstein and the Mummy getting down to the tunes! Whether you are on the floor or just watching, the Monster Mash, Thriller and many other favorite line dances entertain both the dancers and the spectators.

Nothing makes people laugh harder than the goofy Monster Mash! "They did the Mash; it's a Graveyard Smash!" The only drawback is these six Line Dances are pretty tricky. No one can learn them on the spot. So we offer to teach the Line Dances during the week of the party at no charge. Everyone is welcome to learn the dances whether you are taking classes in October or not. We don't care; the more the merrier.

Our first night of Halloween Line Dancing will be Friday, October 17, at 6 pm. However if you can't make it Friday, we have six more opportunities for you to learn. Here is the schedule for Line Dance training:


1. FRIDAY, OCT 17 (6-7 pm)
2. SUNDAY, OCT 19 (6:30 - 7:10 pm)
3. MONDAY, OCT 20 (6-7 pm)
4. TUESDAY, OCT 21, (6-7 pm)
5. WEDNESDAY, OCT 22, (6-7 pm)
6. THURSDAY, OCT 23, (6-7 pm)
7. FRIDAY, OCT 24, (6-7 pm)

If you aren't in the Halloween mood yet, I am positive learning these line dances will help you do so. The workshops are free; just show up. Furthermore, you don't have to be currently taking classes. Just come on by and have fun. We would love to have you. Remember, there is no charge. To participate, just show up!


We will be decorating for the Halloween Party on two different days:

Friday, October 17, 11 am - this is the day that our good friend Dracula makes his first appearance. We totally decorate Room 2 and Room 3 so we can have a week of monsters watching us dance during class.

Friday, October 24, 11 am - this is the day we put up the Haunted House in Room 6 and finish any decorations in the other four different rooms.

Anyone who is free during the day on either Friday is invited to join us at the studio for the big project. This is strictly a volunteer labor of love. To participate, just show up!




Hello Everybody,

It's hard to believe that it is now the middle of October and the Halloween party is just around the corner.

I won't deny that it has been an incredibly rough ride over the course of the past few months. First, we were hit with all the devastation from Ike and then the enormous effort towards recovery. If that weren't enough, the economy went into crisis.

With all this doom and gloom, it feels awkward to be pitching another cruise. But you know and I know that trips must be planned in advance, so I will put forward my hopes that we can make our 2009 Barcelona Cruise to Spain, Italy, and France a reality.

There are two ways to look at things. You can surrender and stop enjoying life or you can make the most of an extraordinary opportunity. We are a resilient people and economic recovery will be on the horizon.

Like Rick and I, many of us are at the stage in our lives when we see our retirement not so far off in the distant future. We have worked hard our entire lives so we can begin to enjoy everything the world has to offer. I worry about the economy just like all of us, but I am not going to stop living my dreams just because of the bad news.

Our September 2009 Barcelona Cruise is easily the most ambitious trip I have ever planned.

Here is just a snapshot of the places we will have the chance to see - the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Vesuvius and Pompeii, the stunning architecture of Barcelona, the marvelous museums and ruins of Rome, the museums of Florence complete with Renaissance paintings and Michelangelo's David, the casinos of Monaco, the fabulous beaches of Nice, plus all the incredible shorelines of Northern Italy and Southern France.

I know every one of you leaf through the Travel magazines and say to yourself these are places you want to see some day. Well, I say let's go see them next year.

I have completed an extensive write-up on the SSQQ 2009 Barcelona Trip our website detailing each port including photographs of all the highlights. I hope you will take the time to review our extensive itinerary.

It is now time to sign up for the cruise!

A $250 deposit will hold your spot on the trip all the way until final payment on July 15th, 2009. That is right, you have nine months to save for this fabulous cruise! However, registrations need to be in to me by Tuesday, October 28th. You may email or fax me the information or simply hand the form to Rick or me at the studio. http://www.ssqq.com/travel/barcelona2009registration.htm

If you are sitting on the fence and want to wait and see, I need to let you all know that we need at least 20 passengers to make this trip a go! We currently have 10. Many of you have told me you were planning on going, but of course that was before all the headaches began. So now I need a show of hands to see whether this trip can be a reality or not.

I have decided to reduce the cancellation penalty to $50 through the end of this year due to the unusual economic circumstances. In other words, if you are fairly sure you want to go, this will allow you to "commit" without having to be 100% positive.

I hope you will decide to join us for another trip of a lifetime! Don't miss out on this wonderful experience!!!

A big thank you to all our past passengers who have made these trips so great!

Marla Archer
SSQQ Dance Studio

713 862-2550 fax




One month ago, I wrote the story of the woman who attempted to crash the party on the August 2008 Caribbean Dance Cruise.

Now I have finished the dark story about Destructo and Oblivion, the twin terrors of destruction whose antics sent my experience of last summer's cruise into a tailspin from which I never quite recovered.

These two women made me angrier than I have ever been before on a cruise. So what exactly did they do wrong? To find, you will have to go to the web site and read the story.

DESTRUCTO AND OBLIVION: http://www.ssqq.com/travel/conquest2008story01.htm




No one should come to our Halloween Party without having first read the absolutely true story of the 1981 SSQQ Halloween Party from Hell.

This year marks our 31st Annual Halloween Dance Party. I would like for you to take a moment and wrap your brain around the number THIRTY-ONE.

Thirty one years of SSQQ Halloween Parties. Is that amazing or what? This means the SSQQ Halloween Party has been a phenomenal success for a long, long time.

People are always thanking me for throwing such an exciting and well-organized party. Of course I appreciate the kind words, but I always have to smile to myself because I remember there was a time when our Halloween Parties were not very well organized.

In fact, there was one particular party in 1981 where all hell broke loose. Due to some mistakes I made, the 1981 Halloween Party from Hell turned out to be a complete catastrophe. Yes, that was the year our Halloween Party careened badly out of control. I ended up paying a pretty stiff price in the process. Of course you assume I am exaggerating. Well, guess what, I am NOT exaggerating. You will just have to read the story to believe it.

One small warning - "The SSQQ Halloween Party from Hell" turns out to be a pretty good Ghost Story. So if you are alone at home and it is nighttime, be sure to keep some lights on with your trusty dog nearby to keep you company in case you get the willies.




In 2000, I published a Monster Quiz on the SSQQ web site that consisted of 40 pictures from various Horror Movies. I personally scored 27 on the test. I was very proud of my score and clung to the fantasy that I was way better than the average guy in my knowledge of Halloween Monsters.

In 2006 a new dance student named Tresa Frazier decided to give my puzzle a shot. I was astonished to see Tresa scored 37 out of 40! This was no ordinary woman!

Tresa and I struck up a correspondence. I quickly discovered her score was no accident. Tresa took Halloween even more seriously than I did. My kind of girl!

Tresa offered to help me expand my Monster Quiz and I readily accepted her offer. As a result, in 2006 our picture puzzle doubled from 40 to 80 pictures. In addition, Tresa was kind enough to write an interesting story about her love affair with Monsters.

In 2007, Tresa and I collaborated again to expand the Monster Puzzle to 104 movies. In addition, we added an Answer Page so you can check how you did. For the fun of it, I added a Halloween Trivia Test as well.

With 104 pictures, I challenge our readers to try the puzzle themselves.

The first person to solve the puzzle gets a free pass to this year's Halloween Party. When you solve the puzzle, the solution page will tell you what to do to claim your prize.



This Saturday, October 27, marks our 31st Annual Halloween Dance Party. As always, we expect anywhere from 200 to 300 guests. Actually, last year our attendance was close to 400 people!

Thirty one years of SSQQ Halloween Parties. Is that amazing? Thirty one years is a long time.

As you might guess, the parties keep getting better and better. There are a lot of reasons why the studio party is an automatic slam-dunk success.

For one thing, SSQQ Party has a rich tradition of excellent Halloween costumes. Costumes and Dancing go hand in hand. People feel less inhibited when they wear costumes, especially Monster Costumes.

Plus it is a fun party. There is an unspoken understanding that Halloween invites the Devil in everyone to emerge - misbehavior is not only expected, it is appreciated. Sure people act a little naughty. It's Halloween, what else do you expect?

Another reason for the party's success is that we have dancing on three different floors. In addition to the Country-Western and East Coast Swing dancing in Room One, we have Jack Benard supervising the Whip dancing in Room Four and Linda Cook's Salsa dancing in Room Five. You have never seen so much dancing in your life!

In case you didn't know, SSQQ has the best "Amateur" Haunted House around. Everyone hates the SSQQ Haunted House for a single reason - it is ridiculously scary!

It may be an "amateur production", but our Haunted House is definitely creepy. What makes it so scary is that we keep the room pitch dark. Then we pump up eerie music from "The Exorcist" and "Halloween" very loud to make sure your nerves get on edge. It takes at least 5 to 10 minutes to slowly inch your way through the winding maze shrouded in darkness. And you never know just whom you might meet in the Haunted House... But you know what - if you survive the Maze, it sure gets you in with the Halloween Spirit!

PS - I better not catch anyone using their cell phones to light up the maze. What a bunch of babies! No one gets hurt in the Haunted House, so what are you afraid of? Quit being such a coward. A little walk in the dark is good for everyone.


One reason our party is a perpetual success is due to the wonderful lengths our guests go to wear great costumes. Yes, you can come to the party even if the best you can do is wear gym clothes, but we ask you to try to do better.

Let's face it - getting a good costume is a lot of work. But like any activity you put energy into, wearing a good costume turns out to be fun. It is marvelous to be surrounded by fabulous costumes wherever you look and to know that you are contributing to the fun! Who wants to be seen in a crummy outfit?

As a reward for the effort it takes to get a costume, we make a point to take your picture. For many years we have taken costume pictures and published them on the SSQQ web site. As a result, since the SSQQ Party has a rich tradition of excellent costumes, people actually put some thought and effort into their costumes and it pays off. This year, erstwhile SSQQ Swing instructor Steve Gabino will be back to take your pictures, so no slacking off.

By the way, if you are worried about dancing in your costume, just plan to take off the bulky parts when the dancing begins. A few years ago, Linda Cook and her daughter Samantha came as two trees with a hammock hung between them. After some great pictures and lots of laughs, Linda's tree was seen sitting peacefully next to Dracula for the rest of the evening as Linda danced the night away. The only problem was that Linda forgot the hammock. Tired of that stupid old coffin, after eating one of the guests, I believe Dracula spent the night in Linda's hammock instead.

Speaking of costumes, I would like to remind everyone to go look at the pictures from last year's party. You can see the 250 pictures taken by Steve Gabino. Not only will it bring back memories for those who came last year, you will get plenty of ideas for costumes to wear this year.

Then I want you to go see the Best Costumes Page from last year. One note of warning - you will of course be saddened to see the picture of Gary and Tracy Schweinle. Gary loved our Halloween Parties so much. I know he will be in my thoughts for sure at this year's party.

One more thing - Many people use "no costume" as a reason not to come to our party. Don't let that stop you. We allow everyone a little leeway for their first Halloween Party. Maybe on your second visit we get tougher, but First-Timers are welcome to come to the party with a mediocre effort. However don't just show up in blue jeans. You have to try a little. Get a mask at a drugstore on the way over. Or wear some ugly clothes that don't match and scare people. How hard is that? Most of all - PARTICIPATE! For heaven's sakes, don't miss this great party for any reason at all.

Even Cher Longoria makes an effort. I told her I was so sick of her stupid Devil costumes. So last year Cher came as Snow White. Boring. Besides, Cher was so out of character she probably had trouble figuring out how to put on the costume. How she wore it with a straight face was a real testament to her ability to fool people. Fortunately her stupid computer can't read anything I put on the ssqq web site. I can say anything I want about her with total impunity!

However I going to her shop for a haircut in a few minutes, so I think I will wait till after the haircut to publish this. Wouldn't want to lose an ear, you know. By the way, you can see her picture on page one.



Speaking of costumes, my friend Carol Gafford shared her pictures from the 2006 Carnival of Venice. This is your chance to see 28 of the most beautiful Masquerade pictures imaginable! Someday I would like to travel to Italy to see this in person. What stunning beauty. It is almost unimaginable to see costumes so wonderful.



As I watched last night's McCain-Obama debate, I was impressed with the good job turned in by the narrator Bob Schieffer. I was reminded that three weeks ago Mr. Schieffer said one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard on TV. I will share his words with you.

Face the Nation (CBS News) - Sunday, September 28, 2008


"And finally, I went back to Oxford, Mississippi, Friday to cover the presidential debate.

It was the first time I'd been back on that campus since 1962, when I was sent there as a young reporter to cover what would be my first big story, the enrollment of James Meredith, the first African-American to attend the university.

Of all the stories I've covered, including Vietnam, the most terrifying experience I ever had was that night on the campus of Ole Miss when a riot broke out. Hundreds were injured, two people died as protestors tried to stop a black man from attending a tax-supported state school. Meredith remained under armed guard until he graduated, but his enrollment marked a turning point in the civil rights movement.

Yet, when I came back to the campus Friday, all that seemed long ago and far away. Where the state's governor had once defied federal law and snipers had fired into crowds of journalists and mobs had set fires, black and white students were working together to welcome reporters and official visitors.

Mississippi governor Haley Barbour called it a fine day. Ole Miss was hosting a presidential debate that included the first African-American to capture a major party presidential nomination. Everyone had joined hands to ensure it went off perfectly, and it did.

We still have a long way to go in this country to ensure that every American is treated fairly, but as I walked across the Ole Miss campus Friday it helped me understand that in less than my lifetime we have also come a very long way. It was a fine debate, but it was so much more.

It was a significant moment in American history."

Contributed by Gareld McEathron

(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: I suppose I should list a Halloween joke, but this one will do just fine.)


A cruise trip on the Pacific goes all wrong. An enormous tsunami capsizes the ocean liner, the ship sinks, and there are only 3 survivors.

Bob, Tom and Debbie manage to hang on to a life raft. Days later the ocean currents take them to a small uncharted Pacific atoll.

They live there for a couple of years doing what's natural for men and women. But what should be an Eden-like existence is instead a cauldron of total misery.

Indeed, the triangle creates unbearable pressures for Debbie. The men bicker constantly over who gets her next, why she seems to prefer one over the other, why she withdraws all the time, and so on. No matter what she says or does, Debbie cannot do enough to please either man. Debbie is blamed for everything. All the men ever do is fight, complain, point fingers and sulk. Everyone is miserable, but most of all Debbie.

Debbie feels absolutely horrible about her existence. One day she goes into the water and drowns herself.

The men are too late to save her. Full of grief and remorse, they carry her lifeless body back to shore.

Debbie's suicide was tragic, but Bob and Tom managed to get through it. After a while, Bob and Tom's resistance to nature's urgings waned, and the inevitable happened. They knew what they were doing was completely wrong, but they couldn't help themselves.

At first they experienced vague naggings, but their needs were too powerful. Well, a couple more years went by and their misgivings intensified. Bob and Tom began to feel absolutely horrible about what they were doing. Finally, after a long talk, they decided to do the right thing.

They buried Debbie.

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