December 2008
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This is the Second SSQQ Newsletter for December 2008
The SSQQ Newsletter is written by Rick Archer


9:00 PM - 12 Midnight $7 PERSON

World Champion dancer Joel McCleskey and his beautiful wife Ruth will perform for us at the party!

Dress casual. The idea of this party is to relax. A shirt with Christmas Designs or colors like Red and Green would be nice, but if you are in a Bah Humbug mood, wear whatever you like.


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



Wednesday, December 31st
9:00 pm - 1:00 am, $25 per person

Coat & Tie for Men,
Dress or Dress Suit for Ladies

Western and Big Band Swing Music in Room One plus Irish Waltzes and Sinatra Foxtrots
Whip in Room Four

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

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

What better way to welcome in the New Year than with Dancing!!
To participate, pay at the door.


From: Charley Denton
Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2008 11:17 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: John and Dee Dee King are now parents

Rick, I received this from John King.  Last time I saw them( a month ago) they were at the studio doing the prego-hustle.  Dee Dee moves pretty well considering!  .... Charley

Here is John's note:


DeeDee and I were blessed Monday, December 8, 2008 at 3:10pm with the birth of our daughter, Claire Lillian King.


She weighed 5lbs. 10 1/2 oz. and was 18 1/2 inches long.


DeeDee and Claire are doing fine.  We hope they get to come home tomorrow.


----- Original Message -----
From: Jean Taylor
To: Marla Archer
Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 8:00 PM
Subject: New Baby Girl

Well, we did it!

Here is our new baby girl, Savannah Jane Taylor. Born on Halloween, 7 lbs. 10 oz., 19.5".

I am a proud Mama.

Jean and Donald Taylor



A couple days after Thanksgiving, Jack and Jo tied the knot on Saturday, November 29.


POEM WRITTEN BY Joy Al-Jazrawi (with a nod to Clement Clarke Moore)

Twas the night before Christmas at SSQQ
The staff was teaching lessons in polka, waltz and triple two
The studio was busy, students dancing with care
In hopes that their double turns soon would be there.

The instructors were teaching the students to stay on their lines
While visions of practice danced in their minds
And Rick Archer starting his lesson with ruler in tow
Discussing the dance steps: quick, quick, slow, slow

When out in Room 6, there arose such a clatter
Rick sprang from his lesson to see what was the matter
To the front of the studio he flew like a flash
It was like he was running the 100 yard dash

When, what to his wondering eyes did he see,
A new student was trying to register for free
The student was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And Marla laughed when she saw him, despite of herself
Rick happily told Santa there was nothing for free
But he could register now and take western swing

More rapid than eagles his instructors they came,
Rick whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
Now, Jack! Now Linda! Now Maureen and Steve!
Come Daryl! Come Ben! Come Scott and MG!

From the back of the studio to the front of the room
The instructors they came, there was no time to lose
Rick spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
He registered Santa; then turned with a jerk,

A wink of Rick's eye and a nod of his head
Santa Claus knew he had nothing to dread.
But I heard Rick exclaim, as Santa drove out of sight
"Santa, you'll be a great dancer, when you get your lead right!"

Written by Joy Al-Jazrawi


From: Lorraine Coats
Sent: Sunday, December 07, 2008 3:39 PM
Subject: From Michael Friedberg's Daughter

Mr. Archer,

Of all things, my aunt informed me today that one of my cousins had found your website tribute to my father. I read through it and was very moved. I miss my father terribly-- your recollections and those of other SSQQ members brought both tears and smiles.

You are right: my father was a very private man. But he was also one of the most deeply caring people I have ever met. I have always believed that he felt emotions very intensely, just that he didn't let on to everyone. He was always my voice of reason; when asked, he gave careful, considered, and spot-on advice. But he also understood how headstrong I can be, so he always tempered his advice with "do what you think is best," delivered with a smile.
I know he loved attending SSQQ classes, whether he admitted it publicly or not. His very attendance for so many years is proof. My father did nothing he didn't truly want to do. And that's one of the things that was so special about him-- he seemed to know exactly who he was at all times. How many people can say that?

And yes, the University was a large part of his life. Please don't feel unique in being the recipient of University-related excuses for non-attendance. It took some extended negotiations on my part and on my aunt's part to convince him to schedule a substitute teacher so that he could be at the hospital when his first grandson was born on September 4th! As usual, my father was consumed with concern for his students. As it turns out, the feeling was quite mutual, evidenced by the cards and letters I have received from those very same students. I am so glad that he did take the day off (a true first, as I don't think he took the whole day off when I was born!)... and he spent the last week of his life getting to know his grandson.
I am very thankful that the SSQQ family extended their friendship to my father over the years. And I appreciate the donations that have been made to the memorial scholarship fund I'm establishing for him. Please don't think that my lack of acknowledgement for these generous contributions means that I am in any way ungrateful. On the contrary, I am singularly grateful and proud that so many people have so many positive memories of my father. The simple fact is that his death was so sudden and unexpected that I have been incapable of either processing it or acknowledging the kind thoughts and generosity of his friends and colleagues.

I hope you will post this letter so that everyone at SSQQ will know how glad I am that my father had a place to go where he could be with such caring friends. The words "thank you" are simply inadequate.

Best, Lorraine

(Rick Archer's Note: to read the entire story of Michael's passing, please visit


Contributed by Gareld McEathron

Go have some fun.



Rick Archer's Note: In our previous Newsletter issue, I published an email chain from a woman that I felt demanded way too much attention. If you missed our previous issue, you can find the story down below on this page.

From: L
Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:16 PM
To: SSQQ Newsletter
Subject: email chain story

Hi Rick,
As I read through the Newsletter, I was appalled at the person who emailed so so so many times about changing classes because of her friends not being able to join her at the time she wanted to come to classes, then her problem about it "not being worth her effort".

I was reading with my mind saying OMG what kind of nut case is she! You do put up with so much from so many and you really never know when it is going to be heaped upon you. I just applaud you greatly for being the person that you are.

I think you are a lot more patient than you say you are. I have never seen you NOT go out of your way to please, appease, comfort, console or basically bend over backwards to deal with some of these yahoo's. Isn't it ridiculous what some people expect?

-----Original Message----- From: P
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 5:49 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: About that Email Chain

Rick, for so many years you have done a phenomenal job at creating a fun & supportive atmosphere where lots of magic happens for so many of us. No, I haven't found romantic love there, but I did find a true love.... for dancing. Something for which I discovered that I am actually pretty good at.

I also like to help encourage people who are brave enough to come out and give it a try. I think the SSQQ experience has touched many people at many different levels. For some of us it is a life changing experience. My life is certainly the better for it.
You indeed are just a normal man Rick. You are right, we all go through "burnout" from time to time. Who knows, it may be time or getting close to the time when you decide to step through the exit door. If you do I will feel some sadness for my loss but also great joy for you because you will be following your heart and truth and the next step in your journey.

Regarding the "woman who asked too much", honestly, I don't know how anyone puts up with the "public" for any length of time. People can be so rude...I even have to count myself in that group from time to time. Yep, sweet little me.

Why just the other day I was at the grocery store shopping. I had finished and while I was making my way to the checkout line I started looking in my basket and thought "uh oh, I don't think I have enough cash for all of these things." "Oh well," I thought, "I'll just put something back if it goes over the amount of cash I have." I then wheeled my way over the checkout line. When I got close enough to the counter/conveyer I picked up the separator bar and placed it on the conveyor and started unloading my items. After I finished I glanced up at a few magazines then turned my gaze toward the checker and could see that the person in front of me was now paying for her groceries and I was next. The grocery checker then said to me while she was handing the change back to the woman checking out, "you know, this is a 15 item-only line."

I was embarrassed and immediately got defensive and said "well why didn't YOU tell me this BEFORE I put all my groceries up there!" She then said it was OK and I was (silently) having a talk with myself about taking responsibility for my own behavior and not blaming her...after all there were many signs in this area clearly stating this is a 15 item line only. I reminded myself to just shut up. She rang me up and yes, I did end up going over the amount of cash I had but by this time was too embarrassed to put anything back so I pulled out a credit card (which I did not want to do) and just paid for it all. I again offered an apology for not paying attention and that I was sorry for the inconvenience. Well, after I said this I wanted her to say "oh, that's OK Honey, (smiling sweetly) I've done the same thing myself." Do you know she had the nerve to NOT say anything at all??
Well, I was pissed off all over again. I didn't say anything to her though, just snatched my receipt from her hand and left the store. The poor woman.
I drove straight to the Kolache Shop for some quick food therapy, after all I had a lot of cash now.
At any rate, I don't think I could take working with the public for long.

From: Rich
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 5:39 PM
Subject: keep it going


I just finished your latest newsletter and it prompted me to write you.

I came to Houston in Feb of 2008 on a contract job. Was wondering what I would do to feed my Dance craving when I found SSQQ. You have a fantastic organization there.

I started taking classes and attending the weekend parties. I would still be doing it if I did not have to leave Houston this fall (although I do periodically visit Houston).

Just to let you know a lot of people DO appreciate what you have done, even thought we do not always say so. The social atmosphere is always great, the people are great and you cannot beat the price anywhere. So please do not let A FEW disgruntled people get you down.

I still look forward to reading your newsletters , so please keep it up, like the email said you do have a great knack for writing informative and amusing articles. I will be very sad when the day comes that I visit Houston and find that SSQQ is no more.


From: A
Sent: Monday, December 08, 2008 12:55 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Some words of encouragement

Hi Rick,

I haven't been getting the newsletter emails and I finally got around to going to the website to check them out from there. I finally signed up for the email list. But after reading the newsletter it became clear that you deserve a word of encouragement. Actually several words. So many. Sorry. You aren't the only aspiring writer. I hope you are an aspiring reader too.

First, your parties are great. Don't pay attention to the people complaining about the $15 price for the Halloween party. Yes it is more money than we pay to go to a night club, and it's certainly more than a normal SSQQ party. But seriously folks, it's not a normal party and it's not a club. It's a safe place to have a great time. There's no smoke. Parking is free. (People forget about this one.) Drinks are free! And people aren't there to pick each other up. They are there to make and meet friends and have a great time dancing to great fun music on a great dance floor. And let's not forget the costumes. That alone is reason enough to come.

All of the parties at SSQQ are great, but THE SSQQ HALLOWEEN PARTY IS THE BEST PARTY OF THE YEAR! I can't believe that people do not realize just how much value they get for $15! We have great parties at SSQQ, particularly the Latin ones. I admit that I don't get to the other parties much but I do remember the Latin parties in bygone days. They were fun for awhile but they didn't last long. Why? People didn't show up, then they left to go to a night club. But last year we really started to push them and to encourage people to bring food. I think food and decorations to advertise (thank Linda for that) really did the trick. The man upstairs apparently smiled on our shin-digs and there was a noticeable improvement in attendance.

We owe Linda a great deal. Linda puts her heart and soul (and her own money) into the Latin parties, all for the love of your dance studio, her students, and helpers. With her willing and eager volunteers to help her she puts on a great party. (Her list of helpers is so long that I don't want to name any for fear that I will forget and alienate someone. Look at the stockings on the wall. Many of those are her helpers and you can see that her following is huge. Even huge-er because some of her party volunteers aren't even on the wall.) She buys her own decorations, spends a week or two or more constructing them and we all help to put them up. And we spread the word. Finally I think people are taking notice. In fact, people from outside the studio are taking notice.
If you remember last year there was a controversy about the quality of instruction in the salsa program here. You wrote an article addressing it. Well, I'm afraid that the reputation outside of the studio remains a bit but we are improving. In fact, this past weekend, some of the respected dancers from other studios (and even from salsa dance teams!) showed up for our humble Latin party! I was even thrilled to find one or two of them taking my Salsa Explosion crash course! Word is spreading about our great Latin parties and because this one was just as successful as any of them I know that next time we will be getting even more non-SSQQ participants.

Every one of our visitors loved the environment at SSQQ. They had a blast. And they really liked the friendly family-like atmosphere that makes SSQQ the most successful dance studio in Houston. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll see them in a two step class!
Anyway as fun as the Latin parties are, the Halloween party is easily twice as much fun. I think it would be good for your complainers to remember that. Consider the cost of going to a dark loud annoying meat market night club and you can see how much of a value the Halloween Party is. Sure $15 each. Yes, that's $30 for a couple. But let's consider a typical Saturday night at Houston's most popular salsa club: Tropicana. Parking $7. Cover $12. $12+$12+7 is $31. $1 more than the Halloween Party. And that's at a normal Saturday night. Just a normal average sort of fun Saturday night. It's not the greatest party of the year. And that's not even considering drinks. At SSQQ, once you pay the $30, that's it. You pay nothing more for the rest of the night! You get drinks and food free! No, you can't get a mojito or an appletini, but most of us don't drink that stuff anyway. We like to dance unimpaired. I don't want to alienate anyone so I should also mention that if you want a mojito at SSQQ, you can bring one in. Try that at a night club!

Maybe people want to compare SSQQ to a place like Wild West, where parking is free. I don't know about the cover there since I've only been there once, but I'll just bet that an average Saturday night's cost there is not going to be less than $30. And I know that people have a lot more fun at the Halloween Party than they do at an average Saturday night at Wild West. The annual SSQQ Halloween Party is the highlight of many people's year. I think that is worth a measly $15.

I hope you can illustrate the value of the Halloween Party to your students for next year's party. It would be a shame for SSQQ to not have a Halloween Party next year.

Now for something else. Even better. I know how proud you are for being Houston's Romance Center. I completely agree and it's really fantastic. But SSQQ is so much more than that. We are a family. Not just the teachers, assistants, helpers, volunteers, and our friends. Everyone. Even the people who stick to their own. They all feel like SSQQ is a home. And I think they are right. I know it is a second home for me. And for many people it is even more than THAT! In the past 6 months I have met a significant number of people who recently moved to Houston. They were not having a very good time in H-town. Then they went to SSQQ and their lives changed almost overnight. They learned a bit of dancing, made new friends, turned their new friends into great friends, and now life in Houston is great for them. It all began the moment they had to figure out which door to walk into at SSQQ. I have really heard from a large number of people tell me this recently. It keeps coming back. Over and over again people tell me this, "I don't know what my life would be like without SSQQ."
So Rick, I want to thank you for creating this wonderful place. I feel that this truth might have become overshadowed by so much of the recent troubles with Ike, customers with bad attitudes and the landlord. I just wanted to give you a reminder that you have created a true oasis in Houston. It will be a shame if it ever goes away. Not just for the people who have lives at SSQQ now, but also for people that will move to Houston in 2 years, or in 10 years. I want SSQQ to be around for them to find. Maybe it won't be at the current location, you will no doubt retire, but I honestly hope the institution of SSQQ stays in Houston forever. Houston needs SSQQ. I really wanted you to know how many lives you have touched in Houston through your dance studio.
Thank you for giving so much to so many of us, myself included.


From: S
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 5:36 PM
To: SSQQ Newsletter
Subject: best newsletter

Rick, Great newsletter!!

The party for Tracy was a huge success. You did a very wonderful thing for her. I thought the testimonial to Gary was very touching.

I was amazed to read about Joel winning a dance contest!! What a wonderful thing to happen for him! I don't think any other student at SSQQ enjoys dancing more than Joel.

You won't believe it, but I passed that neurological test instantly!!!!!
I couldn't believe I saw them so quickly!! (a first. Ha.)

Loved all the jokes!

You are right, the "woman who demanded too much," was TOO MUCH. I wanted to choke her before I finished reading her emails!!

So enjoyed the Sinatra Foxtrot Class last night! Wanted to let others get a tape first and then I forgot to ask for one.

I love it when some of our beginning students who have gone to the next level come ask me to dance so they can practice their new moves. Two of our young guys did that last night. Then Sam wanted to practice what he had learned in his ghost town class last night. He wanted to see if he could lead it with someone who was not in the class.

(blank) called me yesterday wanting to get back in class. She has been out for the last month or so. Recently she went to a wedding and all her family was so impressed at how good she could dance. She was all pumped up when she called wanting to get back in class. So I encouraged her to come last
night. She wanted to be in your class, but had not taken any waltz classes, except a crash course. So I suggested the ghost town class. Then at practice I noticed no one was asking her to dance, so I slipped around and suggested to several guys they ask her to dance. She had a great time she said.

She and Tim were parked away from the studio so I drove them both to their cars when we left.

You have the largest family I know! Thanks for giving us so much fun!

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 2:12 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Why are we where we are?

We often wonder why we are in a particular place or situation, and most of the time we never get an answer. Tonight I had a rare chance to have that answered. After an evening of dancing with my friends and enjoying the good life I was ready to go home. That led to everybody telling me to be safe going home and we talked of the perils of long drives home at night. That led to me getting slightly irritated at not being able to leave earlier.

I had stated to several that I wanted to get home early and get a good night sleep. Why couldn't I leave earlier? Because I wanted to say good night to my girlfriend, but she was being asked over and over for another dance. I wasn't irritated at her, just the social situation that was holding me there. When she finally made it all the way over to me without being asked again, I let her know I was ready to leave and she could stay and dance if she wanted (since she was on a roll). She wanted to go also so we bid each other good night in the parking lot as lovers should and headed out. I was still silently grumbling about my "good night sleep" being delayed by 5 or 6 songs, but found some good tunes and set a course for the hour long trip to my bed.

About a third of the way home I spotted something not right I neared it was clear there was an accident that had just occurred and cars were still in danger of running up on the scene too fast. So I positioned my car with flashers between the accident and oncoming traffic. When it was safe I got out to see what I could do to help. Apparently I was maybe the 2nd or 3rd person on the scene and what a scene it was. There were children laying all over the place moaning and crying. I called 9-1-1. I was asked by someone if I had a blanket or anything to help with someone in shock. I did so I ran back to my car and got a blanket and towel and returned. I then looked around and saw a young mother crying for her young daughter asking if she was alright. Another person had arrived and was attending the young daughter who had abdominal injuries bad enough she couldn't answer her mothers pleas for an answer.

So I dropped beside the mother to tell her that her daughter was nodding her head to answer. The mother told me her name is Sarah and all she wanted was her baby Meghan to be alright. Sarah was trying desperately to sit up to see Meghan, but was too broken up to do so. I told her Meghan was being attended to and was moving her arms and head and all that is a very good sign and that the best thing that she(Sarah) could do for Meghan was to calm down and take care of herself. I assured her I would not leave her side and I would update her of Meghan's care. Tears began streaming down her face and she cried out in fierce anger" why the hell were they backing up in the middle of the road....I tried to swerve and miss them....but they were going backwards". The "they" she was referring to was the other car that had 9 people in it....a 21 year old driver and 8 children. I put my mouth close to Sarah's ear and said a prayer for all.

With the one arm that still functioned Sarah handed me her phone and said "talk to him, it's Meghan's dad". The phone was ringing on the other end, I choked out the situation to a voice in shock on the other end as he had just said goodbye to them an hour earlier. He needed to know what hospital they were going to. The paramedics had just arrived and didn't know yet. I stayed with him in one ear and with Sarah as much as I could. Her screams were unsettling to Meghan as they were preparing her for the ride. There was a third passenger child in Sarah's car with abdominal pain and seemed to be in shock, the person who attended her seemed to think she was going to be ok. Sarah was being cared for by others and i was able to relay the Hospital info to Meghan's dad. I gave Sarah her phone back just before the doors closed to take her and Meghan and the 3rd passenger to the hospital.

I went to help with the others as the other ambulances were still coming. The young driver still in the car seemed like he was trying to do some paperwork, he didn't know what had happened, his answers made no sense. Children were lying on the ground shivering and crying, I returned to the car and found another jacket. Finally there were enough ambulances and equipment to get everybody going. Me and several others were finally able to compare our stories. I recognized one guy and knew his name....he knew two of the others who had lady works with and knows my ex-wife....another lady nobody knew, did what we all wanted to do, she started crying. She said that two of the children had deep head cuts and were not very responsive, we all choked up. We all congratulated each other for our first aid efforts and how we were able to make a difference in a horrible scene.

As I drove home I knew why i had been delayed earlier that evening. My car was needed to stop traffic....someone needed a blanket i had....another needed a towel I had.....another needed an old jacket I had..... another needed me to help with a phone call..... a mother needed me to report on her daughter.... a daddy needed to know he was needed.......a prayer was needed....this story needed telling. Next time I get irritated at the little things in life, let me remember that I may not see the big picture, but it may be for a reason not yet revealed.

(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: When I was seven, my Father and I went to a local stock car racetrack out on South Main here in Houston. Dad was very excited about the stock cars. Don't ask me why; car racing is not my cup of tea. I was much more interested in the arcade games. Dad had patiently let me play just about every game there was even though I wasn't skilled enough to actually accomplish anything.

Finally he put his foot down… the race was about to begin. Dad insisted we head over there. I was a good sport; I knew it was his turn. We passed at least 20 booths on the way and I didn't say a thing.

Suddenly I stopped in the middle of the road leading to the stands. I said, "Dad, I just want to thank you for being so nice to me. This is really a lot of fun." Then I gave him a big hug.

At that exact moment, a stock car burst through the wood fence and smashed into a pole about ten feet away. Fortunately the driver was okay. Dad and I were incredulous. The car had barely missed us by a few feet. It all happened too fast for us to have gotten out of the way. The wood fence had prevented us from realizing the car had lost control and was careening right at us.

Dad stared at me with the strangest expression on his face. He said, "You know, I was a little irritated when you stopped me a second ago. I wanted to see that race so bad I was ready to pick you up and carry you there just to get there sooner. But if you hadn't hugged me and forced me to stop, we would probably both be dead right now.")



(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: This letter was originally sent to me in an email back in December 2001. Long-time Newsletter Readers will surely remember this story since I have reprinted it several times. However, we have many new subscribers who would likely enjoy reading this classic even though it is now seven years old).

Written by Frank Jefferson
Mon 12/17/2001 2:41 PM

Hi Rick,

My name is Frank Jefferson. I doubt you will remember me and my wife Jackie, but we remember your studio very well. We took lessons at SSQQ back in 1991 for about five months until my company transferred me to Denver that summer.

The reason I am writing is to tell you how your studio and dancing changed my life and my marriage eleven years ago. I ran across your web site the other day while I was visiting my oldest son here in Houston. He mentioned an interest in taking dance classes so I looked you up on the Internet. As I read some of your anecdotes, I started to reminisce about learning to dance Western at SSQQ. Then it occurred to me my Christmas story might be interesting to some of the people who visit your studio.

As 1990 neared its conclusion, things were going pretty well for me. My career as an accountant was going well, one boy was finishing his doctorate work at UT, my other son was in college and my daughter was a senior in high school. I thought my marriage was doing pretty well, but as I look back I realize increasingly my wife and I were spending less and less time together. Part of the problem was I had become a golf addict.

Back then I played golf Friday, Saturday, and Sunday without question and usually managed to play a round during the week plus at least go practice my driving or my putting after work one or two other days. It was an obsession with me. I love the game with a passion (still do for that matter!). What other sport allows you to visit with friends, take a leisurely stroll through the woods and beautiful scenery, gives you some good exercise, and challenges you mentally as well as physically?

Even when I wasn't playing, I was reading golf magazines or watching a golf tournament on TV or on videotape. I may have physically been in the house, but mentally I was usually on the golf course. As I said, I was a golf addict.

Then came Christmas 1990. Christmas was always an agony for me since as usual I had no clue what to buy my wife for a present. What do you give the woman who has every possession she would ever need? I wracked my brains for what to get her. Finally in desperation I gave up and simply asked, "Jackie, what do you want for Christmas this year?"

It was almost like she had been waiting for this moment! Without hesitation her reply was to grab her purse and pull out a schedule listing your studio's dance classes. I think a girl friend had given it to her. She laid it out on the table, pointed to it, and simply said, "Frank, I want you to take a dance class with me in January." No anger. No pleading. No guilt trip or anything like that. This was just like my Jackie. I asked her a question and she answered me matter-of-fact. She wanted me to take a dance class with her.

For some reason, I was stunned. I had not expected this. Money I had to give. Going out and buying something was no big deal. Even building something like a porch would have been no problem. But committing some valuable free time to do something stupid like take dance lessons? You gotta be kidding!

But Jackie knew me too well. Deep down she knew I enjoy pleasing her. She held eye contact and said nothing. In fact she smiled the whole time. I think she knew exactly what was going through my mind. For a while I sort of felt set up, but eventually I realized it wasn't the worst thing in the world that she had asked me to do. I can still remember while she just sat there at the kitchen table watching me make up my mind! I think she enjoyed watching me squirm, something she has never denied for a moment.

It took me a long time to answer. Finally I realized I wasn't going to figure a way out of this. Despite my best efforts I could not come up with one good excuse so I gave up and said, "Okay. If that's what you want, you got it!" I wrapped up a letter and put it in a box. When she opened it Christmas Day, it said, "I promise to take a dance class with you in January! Love, Frank."

Jackie gave me a big hug and grinned as my kids teased me unmercifully. What had I gotten myself into?

Two weeks later we started taking a Twostep class at your studio. I think the teacher was a lady named Sharon. Fortunately the class was on a Wednesday which was practically the only day I didn't play golf.

I was so nervous the first night. I did not know what to expect. At first I didn't even know if your studio really existed. We couldn't see anything from the street that looked like a dance studio. We had to walk down this long hallway till we found the place to register. Then we sat on some chairs in a big room with about 60 other people with a bunch of guys who looked just as worried as I was.

Once we got going, to my surprise the moves weren't very difficult. Within fifteen minutes Jackie and I were already dancing to music. Then came a shock. Sharon asked us to switch partners. Jackie hadn't told me about this! She grinned at me as suddenly I was expected to move to dance with a woman I had never seen before in my life. What had I gotten myself into? My heart sank with worry. Fortunately I soon discovered the moves worked with the other women in the class too. This was good!

In fact I began to enjoy dancing with everyone in class. Everyone was so nice! Once I got on the wrong foot and accidentally stepped on a lady's foot. I didn't put all my weight on her foot, thank goodness, but it still had to hurt. Her name was Carol. She laughed and said don't worry about it. I just melted with gratitude at her forgiveness. From then on Carol and I became good friends. At each class she would point at her foot and say it had almost healed, but could I aim at the other one instead just in case? By an odd coincidence another time I ran Carol into the pole in the middle of the room. This time as I stared in shock at my stupidity, Carol almost died laughing. "What are you trying to do, Frank, kill me? Did someone pay you to do this?"

At the end of the evening, Sharon told us about Practice Night. Jackie asked if I would mind staying. I looked at my watch and thought about work the next day. I was tired and ready to go, but then I saw that look on her face. Sure, why not? I said we could stay for a little while and see what it was like.

It turned out to be more of a challenge than I had expected. Without the teacher calling out the timing, I had a hard time figuring out how the steps fit the beat. And I couldn't tell a Polka from a Waltz from a Twostep to save my life if I had to. However Jackie came through like a charm. She told me to just dance and she would try to follow. Although I doubt I was anywhere near the beat, once this pressure was off, I started to enjoy plowing around the floor. I had an absolute ball! This was better than dodge 'em cars!

The highlight of the night came towards the end. I had been so absorbed in counting "slow slow quick quick" to myself I was oblivious to everything around me. But after a particularly good run around the floor, I realized I had danced an entire song without making a mistake. I looked at Jackie and saw her beaming with pride and happiness. She was so grateful to be here with me that her smile brought actual tears to my eyes. I had not seen her smile at me in this way in a long, long time. I will never forget that moment.

To make a long story short, dancing became a hobby I looked forward to just like I did with golf. On days I knew I was going to dance class, I would hitch a ride to work. Then later Jackie would pick me up at work and we would go somewhere for dinner before class. We began to chat again just like we did earlier in our marriage. Then we would go to class and have fun learning the Western Swing. We would visit with some of the people we had grown to like before class and during breaks. Practice Night became pretty much a ritual with us as well.

Then in March 1991 I got the news - my company wanted me to transfer to Denver. God, how I hated agreeing to do it! As I talked the move over with Jackie, I was surprised that golf never really entered my mind. However one thing that kept going through my mind was where was I going to dance in Denver? But the money was too good to resist plus with my daughter leaving soon for college, it was less of a problem for the two of us to relocate than the other families in the firm.

Up in Denver we found no studio like yours was in existence. And Western dancing like you have in Houston was practically non-existent. But dancing was in my system now, so we decided to try Ballroom Dancing. To my surprise, I liked it just as much as Western. I even discovered I was able to tell a Waltz from a Tango and be able to keep the beat as well!

We discovered a 'dance underground' in Denver. Practically every night of the week a different studio would offer social Ballroom dancing, and on the weekends there were special events sponsored through a dance organization I am sure you have heard of called USABDA. The big moment for me was when I realized I was looking forward to a Saturday evening dance with my lovely wife just as much as I was looking forward to playing golf that afternoon!

I still play a lot of golf, but have cut back a little to make more time for my dancing as well. Recently I even let myself get talked into dance competitions. Can you believe that? We haven't won anything yet, but the point is I enjoy improving at dance just like I once obsessed over my putting. I realize my story borders on being sappy, but the truth is that dance has become the favorite activity for my wife and I to share.

Thanks again for helping us get started!

Regards, Frank Jefferson

Contributed by Denny Morse

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly, much nicer than I would have been.

So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!'

This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks.. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment.

As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so...Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't.

Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!

Contributed by Judy Walsh and Gareld McEathron

"Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any cr.p, be ready to receive a ton of sh.t.

Written by the Redneck humorist Jeff Foxworthy in 1996
Contributed by Loni Llewelynn

As a joke, my brother Jay used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas... He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them.

What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids' stockings overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.

One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.

If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. you'll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, 'What does this do?' 'You're kidding me!' 'Who would buy that?' Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.

I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.

Finding what I wanted was difficult. 'Love Dolls' come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for 'Lovable Louise.' She was at the bottom of the price scale.

To call Louise a 'doll' took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life.

My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy, but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.

We all agreed that Louise should remain in her pantyhose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door.
'What the hell is that?' she asked.

My brother quickly explained, 'It's a doll.'

'Who would play with something like that?' Granny snapped.

I kept my mouth shut.

'Where are her clothes?' Granny continued.

'Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran,' Jay said, to steer her into the dining room.

But Granny was relentless. 'Why doesn't she have any teeth?'

Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, 'Hang on Granny, hang on!'

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, ' Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?' I told him she was Jay's friend.

A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the mantel, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants.

Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.

Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh.

Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored Louise to perfect health.

I can't wait until next Christmas.


Contributed by Ralph Volz

A man drove his secretary home after she had a little too much to drink at a party. Although nothing happened, he decided not to mention it to his wife who was an insanely jealous and suspicious woman.

Later that night, the man and his wife were in the car when he spotted a high-heeled shoe under the passenger seat. While his wife wasn't looking, he picked up the shoe and tossed it out of his window. Later, as they got out of the car, his wife asked, "Honey, have you seen my other shoe?"

Contributed by Alyssa Shulman

Billy Bob and Luther were talking one afternoon when Billy Bob tells Luther, "Ya know, I reckon I'm 'bout ready for a vacation. Only this year I'm gonna do it a little different. The last few years, I took your advice about where to go. Three years ago you said to go to Hawaii. I went to Hawaii and Earline got pregnant. Then two years ago, you told me to go to the Bahamas, and Earline got pregnant again. Last year you suggested Tahiti and darned if Earline didn't get pregnant again."

Luther asks Billy Bob, "So, what you gonna do this year that's different?"

Billy Bob says, "This year I'm taking Earline with me."

Contributed by Ralph Volz

An older Jewish gentleman marries a younger lady and they are very much in love. Despite the difference in their age, for the most part she is very happy. He is kind, intelligent, funny, wealthy, and very attentive. They are best friends.

However, there is one problem. No matter what the husband does in bed, the woman never hits the Big O. Since they agree a Jewish wife is entitled to pleasure, they decide to ask the rabbi what to do.

The rabbi listens to their story, strokes his beard, and makes the following suggestion.

"Hire a strapping young man. While the two of you are making love, have the young man wave a towel over you. That will help the wife fantasize and should make it happen."

They go home and follow the rabbi's advice. They hire a handsome young man. The older man explains exactly how to wave a towel over them as they make love. But it doesn't help and she is still unsatisfied. Perplexed, they go back to the rabbi.

"Okay," says the rabbi, "let's try it reversed. Have the young man make love to your wife and you wave the towel over them." Once again, they follow the rabbi's advice.

The young man gets into bed with the wife and the husband waves the towel. The young man gets to work with great enthusiasm and the wife soon has an enormous, room-shaking, screaming event that never seems to never end. Both of them collapse in exhaustion.

Meanwhile the husband smiles with joy. He is so proud of himself.

He looks at the young man and says to the lad triumphantly, "You Putz, learn something from the old guy! Now THAT'S the way you're supposed to wave a towel!"





This is the First SSQQ Newsletter for December 2008

The SSQQ Newsletter is written by Rick Archer (whenever he gets around to it)


Today’s Newsletter is 35 pages long.  See how many trees we save by reading it on our computer?


Quick Note: In my Rant from two Newsletters ago, I asked people to be nicer to my Registration Staff.  I am pleased to report that after three days of December Registration, Marla says there has not been one negative incident.  Thank you!  RA


Quick Quick Note:  We are decorating the studio for Christmas on Wednesday, November 25, at 11 am.  This is when we put up the Dickens Village.  If anyone would like to help, come on by.  We should be there till at least 2 pm, probably longer since it is a big project.



We currently have 10 pages of Halloween pictures posted.  Go look!




 Starting on Wednesday, November 26, I am teaching an interesting course titled “Sinatra Foxtrot.” 

This course is something of an experiment.  By and large, I enjoy Ballroom Dancing.  When we dance to Ballroom Music on our cruises, I always enjoy the elegance of Ballroom Dancing in such a beautiful setting.  However, it hasn’t always been this way.  Of the two “Smooth” Ballroom Dances, I absolutely love to Waltz, but I have always disliked the Foxtrot. 

Maybe ‘dislike’ is too strong a word.  Actually I like the music a lot.  Who can deny that Frank Sinatra is one of the greatest singers in history? 

But I have always had two objections to the Foxtrot that kept me from enjoying the dance.

My first objection is that the footwork I knew didn’t fit the speed of the music very well.  You see, Foxtrot and the Twostep both use the same Slow Slow Quick Quick patterns.   Except that Foxtrot music is typically 50 or 60 beats slower than Twostep music.  SSQQ footwork felt comfortable to the speeds of Twostep music, but I didn’t feel like the Foxtrot moved fast enough when I used the SSQQ patterns.

My second objection was that most of the women I danced with had trouble with rhythm switches.  It turns out that Foxtrot actually uses two rhythms:  Slow Slow Quick Quick (SSQQ) or Slow Quick Quick Slow Quick Quick (SQQ SQQ).  That second rhythm is usually associated with a Foxtrot pattern known as the Box Step.  

Whenever I would switch back and forth between the two rhythms, most women would have fits trying to follow.  They would stumble and get frustrated.  You can blame my poor leads if you want, but in my heart I know I lead pretty well.  One day I asked my instructor to lead me.  Sure enough, I had fits with the rhythm switches as well.  I am not saying it can’t be done, but I am saying that it is tricky to follow even for experienced ladies.

One night I noticed the Box footwork seemed to fit the Sinatra music tempo better than the SSQQ footwork.  I also noticed that if I stuck completely to that one rhythm, the women had no trouble following.  Since I preferred the Box Step rhythm, I found myself increasingly ignoring the SSQQ patterns and sticking strictly to Box Step patterns.

Then one day I got to thinking.  If Waltz patterns can be adapted to move around the floor to create a style of dancing known as Western Waltz, why couldn’t the same be done for Foxtrot?   After all, there is a Twinkle in Western Waltz and a Twinkle in Foxtrot.  Who ever said the Foxtrot Twinkle had to stay in one spot on the floor?   If the Waltz Twinkle can travel, why not see if the Foxtrot Twinkle can travel as well?

So I began to experiment with my Western Waltz patterns.  Lo and behold, almost every single Western Waltz pattern converted over to Box rhythm (SQQ SQQ) effortlessly.  The next thing I knew, I was circling around the floor using Western Waltz patterns adapted to Foxtrot. 

I was pleased.  In the space of five minutes, I had created for myself an entire new style of traveling Foxtrot.  Affectionately known as “Boxfox”, I liked the traveling, I liked the fact that not changing the rhythm made it easier for my partners to follow, and, best of all, now I was moving at the right speed for the Sinatra music. 

Whereas I once dreaded having to dance the Foxtrot, now I began to look forward to every opportunity.  I finally had something interesting to offer the ladies on the floor.  And guess what?  The ladies loved it! 

The ladies enjoyed the traveling just like I did, they enjoyed not worrying about the rhythm switches any more, and they liked the increase in tempo.  But more than anything else, the ladies were very happy to dance to anything sung by Frank Sinatra.  Elvis and the Beatles may have made them scream, but Sinatra music touches much deeper with his sophisticated lyrics and cool delivery.

“Witchcraft”.  “The Way You Look Tonight”.   “It Happened in Monterrey”.  “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”.  “Night and Day”.  “New York New York”.  

The ladies love every moment of every song.  They get very soft and warm.  Cher Longoria always tells me that any guy who can spin her around the floor to music this good becomes an instant champion in her eyes.

If you like Sinatra, then I bet you will like this course.   RA




On Saturday, November 22, SSQQ hosted the Mr. Hat Country-Western Dance Party that served to honor the memory of our departed friend Gary Schweinle as well as to benefit his financially-strapped widow Tracy.


I am proud to report that 200 people came by to show their respect for Gary and to Tracy as well.  The many smiles and the laughter were a sight to behold. 

So many people brought food that there was a huge spread resembling a down-home country potluck dinner.  The food, the friends, and the dancing all worked in tandem as people danced well into the night.


In addition to the people who attended, Gary and Tracy were on the minds of many people who were there in spirit if not body.  A group of Swing Dancers who attended a party at Charlie Denton’s house were kind enough to take a collection of their own and make generous donation to Tracy the following day.

The money was significant, but far more important was the incredible warmth showered on Tracy by the many guests on this night.

I can report with great satisfaction that for the most part Tracy had a big smile throughout the evening. I think she is almost ready to face the world again.

Speaking of smiles, everyone was pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Grouch (me) actually beaming throughout the evening.  After my recent “RANT” a couple weeks ago, a fire-breathing dragon seemed a real possibility.  Surprise Surprise, I actually enjoyed myself throughout the evening.  It was fun doing a good thing for a good person.  Lots of people thanked me for hosting the benefit.  Truth be told, I considered it an honor to throw the party.  Marla and I agreed it was one of the happiest, warmest events we have ever hosted. 

And we were so touched by the constant generosity shown by our guests towards Tracy.  Many people contributed way more than we asked them to.  They didn’t want their names printed, they didn’t want anyone to fuss over them, and they didn’t want any credit. They just wanted to help.

There are some really great people that hang out at this dance studio.  Let me tell you - You all did a really good thing.  I am so proud of all of you.  Thank you.  RA




From: tracy schweinle
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 12:49 AM
Subject: Benefit party


Dear Rick, Marla, and everyone at SSQQ,
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, Thank you, THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Saturday night was the best night I have had since my darling Gary had to leave me.

Gary would have been so proud to see ALL the people that attended in his honor to help me. I know he was there with us. I could feel him there, and so did alot of other people. It is so comforting to me now, to be around all of our friends.  It helps me so much to talk about Gary, and share stories, and receive the hugs, especially the hugs.....because that is one of the things I miss the most, is feeling his loving arms around me. 

I am overwhelmed with the generosity of our SSQQ family. This has been the most difficult time of my entire life.  The worst part was losing the best thing that ever happened to me. But add on top of that losing our home, and not having the resources left to me to carry on what Gary would have wanted me to do.....has been devastating.  He was too busy being on our honeymoon to make sure that I was taken care of.  I do not fault Gary for that. I would have done exactly as he did. I am at least grateful that Gary was able to provide for his children......they are just as big a victim in this whole tragedy as I am, and I hope that all of Gary's SSQQ family, will cont. to keep, Kimberly, Amanda, Valarie and Heather in their thoughts and prayers as much as they have done for me. 

What everyone at SSQQ did for me Saturday to help me move on with my life.  I know that it will be possible to continue forward, because I have such a HUGE family @ SSQQ. For the first time since Gary died, I had a little bit of fun.  I just wish that he would have been there beside me, like he always was, to share in our mutual joy.  Even though I know he was there in spirit.....I would have much preferred he be there holding my hand....But God has bigger plans for Gary, and who am I to hold him back?

From myself, and Gary, thanks to everyone who made this possible. I CAN'T thank you enough.
With much love, Tracy 





A letter from Marla Archer

“Buenas Dias Everyone!

I have some great news!

The down trend in the economy does have some benefits. . .

The price for the inside and oceanview cabins on our Barcelona Cruise next year have been reduced.

Here are the new rates:

Category N Inside is now $966 per person double occupancy ($100 reduction for those of you without math ability)

Category I Oceanview is now $1206 per person double occupancy ($150 reduction)

Continental Airlines currently has roundtrip airfare to Barcelona around $1000 per person.

It might be a good idea to purchase your air now while the rates are down if you aren't using miles.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!


Top things to do in Barcelona
Story written by Marla Archer

The first and foremost thing I want to do in Barcelona is to take in the all the culture and architecture of this wondrous city.  Barcelona is steeped in culture and history, so this is an excellent place to sightsee. 

Barcelona is most famous for the fantastic architecture of Antonio Gaudi, whose buildings are scattered throughout the centre of the city.  Gaudi's work is admired by architects around the World as being one of the most unique and distinctive architectural styles.  From the very beginning, his designs were different from those of his contemporaries.  Gaudi's work was greatly influenced by forms of nature and this is reflected by the use of curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, and organic-like forms which are traits of Gaudi's Barcelona architecture.  Gaudi also adorned many of his buildings with coloured tiles arranged in mosaic patterns. This added another important dimension to his buildings, which is so often overlooked by architects - the use of colour.  The combination of original design, interesting shaped stonework, and vibrant colours in Gaudi's work give the viewer a truly breathtaking visual experience. The most famous and impressive of Gaudi's architecture can be seen along Passieg De Gracia where you will find La Pedrera and  Casa Batlo and Parc Guell.  Parc Guell is a gorgeous parc designed by the man himself.  From the outside, the façade of Casa Batlló looks like it has been made from skulls and bones. The "Skulls" are in fact balconies and the "bones" are supporting pillars. Gaudi used colours and shapes found in marine life as inspiration for his creativity in this building e.g. the colours chosen for the façade are those found in natural coral.  This building is a stunning and original work and well worth the visit.  

However, what I am most interested in seeing is the Sagrada Familia, which is the most impressive of Gaudi´s works.  It is a huge, still unfinished temple.   It has been under construction since 1882.   You can’t help but to be humbled by such an imposing and ambitious project.  The detail on the exterior walls is just staggering, but beware, if you are scared of heights don’t be tempted to climb to the top of the turrets.  Rick doesn't know it, but I plan for us to go all the way to the top.  All that working out at the gym will come in really handy now.  Let’s see if Mr. Basketball can keep up with me.

Next thing on my list is to visit the Gothic Quarter, the old town of Barcelona.  The Gothic Quarter is filled with cobblestone streets and tall old buildings.  The giant Barcelona Gothic Cathedral is the focal point of interest in this area.  Picasso was born and spent most of his youth here.  I hear that Barcelona has plenty of museums to keep me happy.  Rick has Friend, his beloved handheld computer chess game, so he will surely be happy escorting me everywhere I want to go.

The Museum of Modern Art and the CCCB next door are definitely worth taking a look at.  I hear that they generally have good exhibitions every month.  The Museum of Modern Art is worth a visit not only for the artwork but also for fabulous view you'll get of Barcelona. The museum is home to a wide range of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque artwork and artifacts including paintings, carvings, sculptures, metalwork, and enamels. The museum also exhibits the largest collection of Catalán art in Spain.  The museum is host to the large collection of Catalán artwork from the 19th to early 20th century from the old MNAC at Parc Ciutadella. If you want to find out what the terms new-classicism, modernism and realism mean, this museum is for you.  I can't wait to see The Picasso Museum and the permanent Dali exhibition in the Gothic Quarter. 

Another stop will be The Caixa Forum.  This free museum is popular with the locals but pretty much ignored by tourists.   Near the Caixa Forum is the Museum of Catalan Art.  It is so beautiful inside and out.

After taking in all the wonderful culture that Barcelona offers, I am looking forward to taking a romantic stroll down the Las Ramblas with my honey. 
The word Rambla, derived from the Arabic word ‘ramla’, serves as a reminder that in earlier times, the street was a gully that ran parallel to the medieval wall, and carried rainwater down to the sea.  Now, Las Ramblas is Spain’s most famous street, a boulevard lined with trees, which is almost 2km long and is dotted with hotels, cafes, restaurants, and newsstands. It stretches from Placa de Catalunya, a main square full of shops, restaurants, and banks, located at the centre of the city, down to the monument of Columbus on the waterfront. 
 The avenue is broken up into five sections, each with its own name and characteristics. The first one is La Rambla de Canaletes, which was named after the fountain Font de les Canaletes. Legend says that whomever drinks from this fountain will forever keep returning to Barcelona.  The next area is named after the Estudi General (university) and is called La Rambla dels Estudis. But some also call it La Rambla dels Ocells (avenue of the birds), because of its many places selling birds and small animals.  Next is La Rambla de les Flors, where you can buy all kinds of flowers. Maybe Rick will buy me a flower to wear in my hair.  As we finish our stroll, we will approach the seafront, La Rambla de Mar where there is an aquarium, restaurants, movie theatres and several popular nightclubs. 

This leads me to my next event in Barcelona -- eating!   Hooray!!!!  Barcelona has great food, there is no doubt about it.  You can get anything you want from international food to Catalan favourites, tapas to seafood platters.  Tapas is my favorite way of eating, little bites of a whole bunch of different flavors washed down with a good glass of wine.  Tapas is to Barcelona what gelatto is to Rome.   Rick and I better research this ahead of time, so we don't end up with a repeat of our gelatto shakedown story while we were in Rome. ( )

I hear there is even a gourmet tapas walking tour; you get 7 tapas and 3 glasses of wine for 55 euro, not too bad a deal.   This is certainly a better deal than 36 euro for an ice cream cone in Rome. Be prepared to eat late in Barcelona.  Lunch is usually at 2 pm and dinner at 10 pm.  This worked out great for us when we were in Rome.  After walking our feet off all day, we had a chance to get a couple hours of rest before we headed back out.

If time permits, I really want to make a side trip to the Montserrat Monastery. This may turn out to be the highlight of our visit.  Barcelona Montserrat is a spectacularly beautiful Benedictine monk mountain retreat about one hour North West from Barcelona by train.  Montserrat Monastery is known for its significant religious importance.  In addition the natural beauty surrounding the monastery is simply breathtaking.   One of my favorite things to do is to take nature walks.  There are some interesting walks through the mountains where you can experience magnificent views of some of the most unusual rock formations in the whole of Catalonia. You can take a funicular to the top of the mountain and from there you can choose a number of different walks, all with amazing views of the Catalonian countryside.   The history of Montserrat is fascinating and started in 880 when a small group of shepherd children saw a bright light descending from the sky in the Montserrat Mountains. In the same moment the children heard angels singing and the music filled their hearts with a radiant joy.  A local vicar was brought to the scene and witnessed the same experiences as the children and parents. The visions occurred in the same location in a cave on Montserrat mountain. When this cave was explored by the religious elders of the community they found an image of the Virgin Mary. And from that moment on the cave became a holy sanctuary for religious pilgrims.  Today the site of the visions has been marked by a Holy Grotto on the mountain. You can walk to the Holy Grotto and see first hand where these events took place. The Holy Grotto has now be ordained a holy place and is visited by pilgrims and curious onlookers from all over the world.  Overwhelmed by the experience the children ran home to frantically recall the experience to their parents. The parents were skeptical but knew their children were trustworthy and honest and so they went to where the children had experienced the visions to see if they could see what all the fuss was about.  For the whole month following the first visitation the parents were also witness to the same heavenly experiences and were left with only one conclusion. The visions were a sign from God.

Having filled my cultural and spiritual needs, in addition to stuffing myself full of tapas and vino, it will be time to spend a relaxing moment at the Parc de la Ciutadella, which is an oasis in the city.  This is a wonderful place to have a picnic.  After a little wine, cheese and bread, it will be the perfect opportunity for a little siesta.  Some of Rick and my favorite moments during the New England Cruise were when we found a peaceful park and rested in each others arms.  It certainly was romantic.   At the northern corner of the park is the Cascada, a triumphal arch with waterfall and fountain built for the 1888 Universal exhibition. The baroque construction designed by Josep Fontsère, responsible for the conversion of the citadel site into a park, took six years to complete. The design was loosely based on the Trevi Fountain in Rome.  The architect was assisted by Antoni Gaudí, at the time still a student. 

Another park that I think Rick would enjoy is Parc del Laberint d'Horta.  It is a labyrinth.  Rick's favorite part of "The Shining" is where Jack gets lost in the maze and ends up freezing to death.  Rick loves puzzles.  This maze is a life size puzzle.  I will just make sure I don't schedule our visit on the same day that the ship sails.  We wouldn't want to miss the ship! 

So many wondrous things to see and do, Barcelona is certainly worth coming in a few days early or staying a few days after the cruise.



Bruce Hanka and Mara Rivas recently announced their engagement.  I believe they plan a late December wedding. 

SSQQ Salsa Instructors Luis Castillo and Olga Bochareva also announced their engagement.  They plan their wedding for late February next year.


Congratulations to both wonderful couples!

Contributed by Denny Morse


Rick Archer’s Note: I took the test and passed.  Barely.  Hopefully you will receive this test in a text format that won’t ruin the test.  One more thing - Good luck finding the “N” in Number 3.


This is a REAL neurological test. Be seated comfortably and feel calm.
1- Find the C below. Do not use any cursor help.

2- If you already found the C, now find the 6 below.

3- Now find the N below. It's a little more difficult..

This is NOT a joke. If you were able to pass these 3 tests, you can cancel your annual visit to your neurologist. Your brain is great and you're far from having Alzheimer Disease. Congratulations!





Our procedures for On-Line Registration had to be tightened up not too long ago.  My friend Susan Arevalo discovered that we had somehow managed to come up with quite a few duplicate student IDs.

Now it is true that most people don’t worry much about having their dance history stolen by another student, but when your credit card starts paying for someone with the same student ID as you, then that is a different matter entirely. 

Susan made it impossible from now on to have any more duplicate IDs. Currently you must enter the exact ID and your exact email address in order to use On-Line. 

As a result there have been a few headaches, but a simple to usually gets it cleared up nicely.

Here is a funny example from a couple days ago:




From: anonymous

Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 11:35 AM

To: ''

Subject: On-line registration issue


Hi Rick!


As we were just discussing by phone, I was trying to register online using my new debit/credit bankcard and it was declined twice, in spite of ample funds in my account. 

I'm wondering if the problem is the fact that I'm using a different credit card # than what SSQQ has previously had on file for me.  My registration ID is WHATEVER.


Thanks for any light you can shed on the issue, N





From: anonymous
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 12:10 PM
To: ''
Subject: On-line Registration Issue Resolved!


Rick, Never mind.


Just spoke with my bank again regarding the credit card issue & online registration, and they are alleging a glitch in their computers that did not allow account access (and therefore declined all transactions.)  Soooo….it appears the glitch is NOT at the SSQQ end!


Sorry for any inconvenience, N





From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 12:20 PM
To: anonymous
Subject: RE: On-line Registration Issue Resolved!


I can’t believe it wasn’t our fault.  Typically my studio is blamed for everything from the collapse of the stock market to disruption in the ozone layer.  I am very relieved! 



From: anonymous
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2008 3:37 PM
To: SSQQ Newsletter
Subject: When Is it Self Diagnosed Burnout?


In my humble opinion, you are not burned out.  Your mental resiliency and physical ability are very high for your age.  Look around you. 

More than likely, you are still grieving the death of your friends, Gary and Michael. 

A friend of mine learned about grief in 2002-2003. 

Her marriage of 27 years ended, her 42 year old boyfriend died of a heart attack, her mother died, her inheritance was commandeered and her sister-in- law of 18 years died of cancer.

Now, when she is faced with heartache and grief, she doesn't shutdown..... Instead she takes vacation days and goes hiking, goes to Mexico and does whatever she needs to do to get herself refreshed and recharged.

I have been taught to let my business to run itself, it doesn't run me.

As an owner, you have manager(s) who can run the studio briefly.  You have trained registrars and instructors.  Will it all fall apart if you take off for a week to yourself?

You are a smart lad and with your wife, I hope you can figure out what is best for your mental health.




From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 10:57 AM
To: anonymous
Subject: RE: When Is it Self Diagnosed Burnout?


Regarding your reference to the burnout I wrote about in my Rant two Newsletters ago, the fact is that I enjoy my job.  I enjoy teaching and I enjoy writing.

But I have created a monster.  I could spend EVERY DAY of the week answering emails, writing travelogues, posting pictures, adding stories and jokes on the web site and writing newsletters. 

So you say I could cut back, well, every time I cut back suddenly I get pestered by the countless people who are impatient to see this that or the other thing on my web site.  The email pressure alone is overwhelming at times.

In addition to the RUDENESS to my Staff that needs to stop now, I get sick and tired of being pestered to do this that and the other thing.  That issue was a major part of my rant.

But an occasional rant like the one from two newsletters ago usually cuts down on the complaints to make my job tolerable again. 

Unfortunately that doesn’t solve the fact that there are two other issues that could mark the end of the circus.   

One, I am very reluctant to sign another lease at my age when the current one expires in 16 months. 

Two, I have no protégé.  There is not one person I can think of who is prepared to take my place at the studio at this moment in time.

Until these two enormous obstacles resolve themselves, the future of the studio remains in doubt.




 Rick Archer’s Note:  In the email above, the writer asserts that I can let the job run itself and leave when I get too stressed out.  It is true that I can leave for a week at a time.  I have done so many times with the cruise trip for example. 

But it is very difficult to walk away from the email pressure.  You might be stunned to discover the kind of demands some people put out there. 

I could be wrong, but this might actually be the most obnoxious email person I have ever run across.  I openly admit there was something about her I could not stand from the moment I read her very first email.







Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 3:32 PM


Subject: Request to Reschedule Class




I had registered online to begin C&W dance class tonight, however, my neighbor who I was going to attend with is unable to come for the next two weeks due to mandatory meetings scheduled at work.  Is it possible for me to switch to Sunday classes and begin this Sunday.  Sunday will work better as I don't do well with driving at night and then she and I can ride together.  Please let me know as I don't want to lose my $40 and I DO want to take the classes.  Thank you very much. 





From: Rick Archer

Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:41 AM


Subject: RE: Request to Reschedule Class


Yes, you can come all three nights the class is offered





Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 4:02 PM


Subject: Fw: Request to Reschedule Class




I'm SO sorry.  I just realized that the Sunday class I requested in my email below started LAST Sunday.  This is my first time trying to get into a class so can you please let me know when the next Sunday would be that we could start without missing any classes and if I can transfer my $40 from my Wednesday class that was to begin tonight to a new Sunday class?  Thank you so much for your help. 





From: Rick Archer

Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:32 AM

To: anonymous

Subject: RE: Request to Reschedule Class


This is the first week of classes; you can come Friday and start from scratch.  Or just start Sunday… the first hour will review all that you missed and you can come another night… wed or fri… and get even more review.







Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:12 AM


Subject: Rick Please Reply




I sent you an email yesterday regarding my request to switch class schedules due to a conflict my friend (that I'm coming with) was having with work.  I would like to switch to Sunday classes beginning with the next class that begins a new class.  Please reply and let me know if that is ok as I really don't want to just lose the $40 and I really want to take the classes. 


I was told by a lady I spoke to when I called that I needed to email you and let you know my request and that you would send me a written confirmation of the change.  Can you please do this so I will know when I am to start the next Sunday session that BEGINS a new class.  Thank you very much.







Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:49 AM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: RE: Request to Reschedule Class




I've sent another email saying that I made a mistake in the email below as I want to begin a Sunday class when I can attend all 4 classes.  Can you please let me know what date a class would again start from the beginning so I can begin from the beginning with other students and is there something you need to send me showing that I have the right to be in the class since my current receipt shows a past start date?  Thanks Rick.



(Rick Archer’s Note:  After I finished responding to Email Two, I turned my computer off for the rest of the day. 

As it happened, I was still EXHAUSTED from the Halloween Party.  Thursday was the first day where I felt like could relax a little. 

But around 8 pm that same night I decided to check my email.  I was surprised to discover not one, not two, but three separate emails from this woman.

For some reason, there are people out there who think an email must be responded to within 24 hours.  There are days when I working on the computer that I do respond fairly quickly. And then there are days when don’t want to be anywhere near the computer. 

Okay, this lady has officially gotten under my skin.  I will admit I felt like I was under email attack.  I had already answered this woman twice in two days and now here were three more emails.  The woman had now changed her mind for the third time.  Can you make up your mind?

Trying to do the best I could, I issued the woman a receipt that would allow her to transfer her western class to December.)





Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 11:20 AM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: RE: Request to Reschedule Class




I am so not trying to be difficult but I just really want to make sure that I get to start on the very first class day of a Sunday Class.  The schedule shows classes actually started last Sunday, October 26th.  Can you tell me when the next beginning Sunday class will be, even if it's in December?  I want to start on the same day as everyone else and not feel like I'm playing catchup.  I hope you can understand.  Please let me know when the next Sunday class schedule begins.  I would like to start then if possible.  Thank you so much for your patience. 





From: Rick Archer

Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:33 PM


Subject: authorization to retake beg twostep on sunday nov 23 2008


Oct 26, 2008   Beginning Two Step/Polka     ANONYMOUS  AUTH/TKT  Oct 23, 2008

Print this out and bring it with you in December.






Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:15 PM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: Re: authorization to retake beg twostep on sunday nov 23 2008


THANK YOU SO MUCH Rick.  I really appreciate it.  I promise, I'm not usual this much trouble.  LOL  I'll be there on the 23rd! 



(Rick Archer’s Note:  Okay, this lady says she is officially a happy customer.  Wonderful.  Now leave me alone.

Two weeks passed.  Then the next set of emails began.)






Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 4:50 PM

To: SSQQ Newsletter

Subject: Re: November 2008 SSQQ Newsletter Issue Three




As a new member, I also subscribed to the Newsletter but I must admit, although I COMPLETELY understand how overwhelming doing all of this can be on someone, I'm now a bit afraid to continue my membership (beginning class is November 23rd) for fear I'll show up again and the doors will be locked and I won't be able to finish my classes. 


I have two friends that were to join and come with me as well.  Please give me your honest opinion as to whether or not it is worth our effort and interest to come take lessons if you are seriously considering closing the entire organization.  If this is a genuine possibility at all, then I would prefer a refund of my $40.00 so that I am not left out in the cold. 


A response would be greatly appreciated.  From a personal standpoint, having been in charge of a monthly newsletter and the pressure I felt having to do it, I would have no problem whatsoever with not having one.  A schedule of classes and/or practice times would be fine with me.  If people want pictures, I'd encourage them to bring their own cameras and take their own darn pictures.  LOL  There, that's my two cents.  I haven't even met you and yet I could so feel your frustration and borderline anger at the people being so demanding. 


Remember, there are many people in this world that are "takers" and they will take and take without a second thought and that will include your time and energy.  The main focus if you choose to continue should be dance classes, not a newsletter or even organization of group trips.  I hope writing all of that at least let you "vent" and feel a little better, however, I would like to know if you would rather refund my money or if I should show up on the 23rd as planned.  Thank you and have a nice weekend. 



(Rick Archer’s Note:  I deeply resented the tone of this letter. 

She wanted me to write and give her my honest opinion whether it would be worth her effort and interest to take lessons from us. 

I thought this was an odd sentence…” A response would be greatly appreciated.”

For starters, no one in their right mind would ever respond to this email for fear that ten more would follow!  But it also occurred to me this might be someone who is used to having people ignore her emails.

Undeterred, one week later this woman writes again.  This week she begs for help trying to unsubscribe to my newsletter.  Do you believe these emails are real or do you think I just make this stuff up?)






Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 2:12 PM


Subject: Unsubscribe to Newsletter Not Working




I am trying to unsubscribe to the SSQQ Newsletter but I am getting a message that says:


“The page you are trying to access does not exist. Please check the URL and try again.”


 Can you please remove me for the Newsletter Email List. 


Thank you.



(Rick Archer’s Note:  I actually chuckled at this email.   Can you imagine someone emailing to ask your help for something this stupid?)







Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 11:38 AM


Subject: Refund Request, Why & PLEASE REPLY


Mr. Archer,


I would like to request a refund of my $40 for a class that was to begin on Sunday, November 30th.  I had written you previously about my concerns from what I was reading in the Newsletter and mentioned my concerns in that email about whether to continue with my membership or not.  To date I have received no response from you and would like to request that my $40 be refunded as I do not believe from what I am reading in the Newsletters that this is what I was bargaining for.  I am asking that you reply to this email and let me know what I have to do in order to get my money credited back to my bank account. 


Thank you



(Rick Archer’s Note:  There are several approaches I can take with email.  The simplest thing to do is not answer this at all.  I am guessing this is how a lot of people handle this woman.  I surmise this based on her “Please Reply” Subject lines in capital letters. 

The next thing to do is to give a perfunctory response, sort of a canned nondescript inoffensive robotic response.  That is probably what I should have done here.

But instead I decided to test out a theory of mine.

Back in September 2009 I wrote an article titled “
( ).  

This was an article about people who ask for Refunds.  In the article I concluded that in my experience whenever someone asks for a Refund, they are permanently lost as a customer.  Not one person in my 30 years has ever come back after requesting a refund. 

Figuring I had nothing to lose by telling the truth, I decided to tell this woman exactly what was on my mind and see how she would react.  Here is what I said)





From: Rick Archer

Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 2:42 PM


Subject: RE: Refund Request, Why & PLEASE REPLY


This is your ninth email in a three week period.  Since you ask 'why' I don't respond, I am going to tell you the truth… I have never felt so bombarded with emails in so short a time by any other student in my entire life.   This explains why I am reluctant to continue to reply since I am certain it will only invite more emails on your part.


Every email is a demand for attention.  There has to be a limit.  If every student emailed me as often as you do, I believe I would never have a moment of peace.


As for refunds, based on the rules of our studio, the time to ask for a refund has long since passed. 


I hope you will simply take the class you paid for over a month ago.  Just because you and I have gotten off on the wrong foot doesn't mean you won't have an enjoyable experience in class.






Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 3:10 PM

To: Rick Archer

Subject: RE: Refund Request, Why & PLEASE REPLY


If I wrote what I really would like to say to you Mr. Archer, I would be no better than you in how you choose to handle people and difficulties so let it suffice to say that although you are mistaken in several items you listed in your email, all it takes is for a person to read the pages and pages and pages of text that you call a "Newsletter" to know that it is merely a  way for you to "vent" your frustations in life and show the weak and emotionally fragile man that you must be to always be so hostile.  Here's a suggestion.  The $40 which you choose to keep of mine under false pretenses, why don't you use it to either seek counseling or an anger management class as everyone that comes in contact with you would be better off.  Example:  I read the email in your Newsletter where you THREW money on the floor back at 2 people that requested a refund rightly or wrongly.  Hence your NEED for anger management.  You must be a sad little man Mr. Archer.  Thank you for your reply as it just confirmed what my gut was telling me about you and your studio.  I will never need $40 badly enough to wallow in the same world of self pity and hatred that you live in.  Although I'm certain your head is about to explode off the top of your head from anger as you read this, resist the urge to reply as you are officially "blocked" from my yahoo account and your emails will never even reach my Inbox. 


Feeling only pity for you Mr. Archer


(Rick Archer’s Note.  Well, now you see what happens when you tell someone exactly “WHY” you don’t respond to their emails.

Dealing with the public can be quite an adventure. Personally, I far prefer email as a form of communication over the phone.  Email allows me to respond when it is convenient for me.  The phone rings whenever I don’t want it too. 

But email can also be a trap.  If you aren’t careful, you can spend every waking hour responding to email.  And that is why I prefer to keep many of my email responses short and perfunctory. 

Obviously in this woman’s case, she didn’t like my style one bit.  Oh well.)






(Rick Archer’s Note: This is an odd story.  I have my own point of view, but I won’t bother you with it.  Mostly I think it is an interesting situation.  Both sides have good arguments.


Santa Monica:  The Place Where the Traffic Median Is a No-Pilates Zone

From The New York Times



Published: November 24, 2008


From his squad car on a sun-drenched corner, Lemont Davis, a Santa Monica park ranger, spotted the perpetrator: white male, 40 to 45 years old, feet pressed against palm tree, legs fully extended in situp position.

Residents' complaints about noisy exercisers on a Santa Monica traffic median led to enforcement of a law few had heard of.

Mr. Davis strode from his vehicle, stopping just feet from the wide traffic median where Kieran Clarke was clearly breaking the law. “Sorry, sir,” he said, “I need to inform you that this area is for walking and jogging only.” Mr. Clarke, who had been working his abdominals, stood up and quietly walked away.

That warning the other day was among hundreds that have been issued in a culturally tumultuous crackdown by Santa Monica officials against violators of a city ordinance, rarely enforced till now, that bars congregating on traffic medians.

The target is increasingly loud, littering and generally intrusive groups of exercisers who gather from dawn until dusk along the Fourth Street median. The ocean view, the air and for some the architectural spectacle have transformed the area into a huge outdoor gym rimmed by multimillion-dollar homes.

In the last six months, park rangers, dispatched by the Santa Monica Police Department in response to complaining neighbors, have stationed themselves on the corner of Fourth Street and Adelaide Drive during much of the day, at the ready to break up any unauthorized kickboxing. “I agree with the residents that they should not be rousted out of bed by a professional gym instructor at 6 in the morning saying, ‘One, two, three, four!’ ” said Bobby Shriver, a Santa Monica city councilman (“Recently re-elected with an even greater margin than I won by last time!”), who lives on Adelaide Drive but says he did not request the enforcement.

Since the patrols began, the city has issued eight citations for the flouting of the median law — the fine is $158 — and has given warnings, which are generally heeded, to about 600 people a month.

“Most people will comply,” said Mr. Davis, the park ranger.

While the median ordinance covers every grassy stretch of its kind in the city, the one at Fourth Street is where the workout overload occurs.

The area has long been a runner’s paradise, and people also use it to sprint up and down an enormous set of concrete steps that lead to the beach. “The use of the median has been going on for years,” Mr. Shriver said, adding that what has apparently happened more recently “is the commercialization by these boot-camp-type groups.”

Naturally a fair share of exercisers are unhappy with the new enforcement, and at a recent City Council meeting, officials batted the matter around: Would the law withstand legal challenges? What constitutes too “early” to be awoken by whistles? But there was no resolution.

Now a community meeting to address median use is set for Jan. 8, “just to see if we can’t get some common-sense solutions,” said Kate Vernez, assistant to the city manager.

“What we are trying to do,” Ms. Vernez said, “is mediate between residents who have seen an uptick in use of the median, with pickup gyms and the like, and the exercisers.”

James Birch, a music executive from the neighborhood, is among those Santa Monicans who have not taken well to enforcement of the law, which was passed in the 1970s and, it is believed, was intended to keep vagrants away.

After 15 years of working out on the median, Mr. Birch arrived there one day in mid-September and saw five officers. “I went up to them,” he recalled, “and said, ‘What’s the deal here?’ They put up these trendy new yellow signs. The cops just looked at me and said, ‘We’ve been told by the watch commander that we’re supposed to run people off here.’ I told them I was going to break the law.”

So he did. One morning he showed up at the median, video crew in tow, and refused to cease doing situps. The exchange that followed was posted on YouTube.

“They let me do it for about three minutes,” said Mr. Birch, 63, “and then came over and said: ‘If you continue doing this, I will arrest you. It’s not allowed here.’ ”

Though he was arrested, he said, the officers did not handcuff him, to his chagrin. “I asked them to,” he said. “But they found out they could only do what was procedurally appropriate.”

He did get a ticket, though, and now awaits his day in court.

“I just want to go and do my push-ups and situps that I have been doing for 15 minutes three times a week for the last 15 years,” he said.

On a recent morning, the area was alive with joggers, some of them pushing strollers, others walking large dogs; a dozen people with demeanors ranging from doleful to boastful trotting up the steps; and at least one trainer pushing his client to move it.

An extremely fit woman of indeterminate Los Angeles age pulled her Mercedes up to the curb on Adelaide Drive, popped open her trunk, pulled out a five-pound weight and began lifting.

Geoff Parcells, who was running along the street, said that he sympathized with residents but that the area “is a public place” and that he did not quite know how to view the enhanced enforcement.

“If I lived here and there were all really good-looking people working out, I probably wouldn’t mind,” said Mr. Parcells, 45. “So I guess it depends on who parks in front of your house.”




Back at the start of November, my buddy Gary Richardson sent me a totally amazing video of a stunt pilot who landed a plane that had lost one wing during flight.

The stunt pilot was doing a loop for a flying show when it appeared one of the plane’s two wings snapped off in mid-air. People in the audience below started screaming bloody murder.  They were certain this plane would not only crash, but it might crash on them as well!

Just when you thought the pilot was a goner, he miraculously uprighted the out of control plane at the last second and landed safely.  It was a very impressive performance!  It was flying skill that no one would have ever believed possible if we weren’t seeing it with our own eyes!

If you haven’t seen the video, let me know and I will forward it.

In the meantime, my friend Ann Faget did some snooping around and discovered this entire video was FAKE!

“It turns out that this was just a clever marketing ploy staged by a German clothing company and posted on Youtube.  I usually check these things out on before I forward them, but Snopes did not catch up with this one until after I had passed it on.  My apologies”

Ann said the actual footage of the airplane landing with only one wing was done with a model airplane. Even though the video is fake, you have to be impressed at how good a job they did in fooling us.  It makes you realize how easy it is to fool people now with video imagery.

Last summer we were thrilled to see a video shot of a woman who caught a fly ball at a baseball game.  It was the most sensational catch I have ever seen.  This woman appeared to climb a ten-foot wall like she was spiderman or something.  This video also turned out to be fake. 

You just can’t believe anything anymore!



Contributed by Denny Morse and Judy Walsh

Personally, I think this month’s joke picture is one the funniest ever.  Denny Morse and Judy Walsh both sent me an email about weird Headlines.  I combined the best of both emails.  You just have to trust me… you will not be able to stop laughing.  Go see the Headlines immediately.  You won’t regret it!




Contributed by Gerald McEathron


(Rick Archer’s note:  Any joke about Jesus has the potential to upset someone, but I didn’t see anything terribly out of line here.  In fact, I smiled all the way through.  I hope you enjoy it too.  Certainly you will agree this joke allows you to put a different light on the makeup of Jesus.)


There were 3 good arguments that Jesus was Black: 

1. He called everyone brother. 

2. He liked Gospel.

3. He didn't get a fair trial.


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish: 

1. He went into His Father's business.

2. He lived at home until he was 33.

3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin and his Mother was sure He was God.


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Italian: 

1. He talked with His hands.

2. He had wine with His meals.

3. He used olive oil. 


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was a Californian: 

1. He never cut His hair.

2. He walked around barefoot all the time.

3. He started a new religion.


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was an American Indian : 

1. He was at peace with nature.

2. He ate a lot of fish.

3. He talked about the Great Spirit.


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Irish: 

1. He never got married. 

2. He was always telling stories. 

3. He loved green pastures. 


But the most compelling evidence of all - 3 proofs that Jesus was a woman: 

1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was virtually no food.

2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it.

3. And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was still work to do!




Contributed by Denny Morse


Brian invited his mother over for dinner. During the course of the meal, Brian's mother couldn't help but notice how beautiful Brian's roommate, Jennifer, was.

Brian's Mom had long been suspicious of a relationship between Brian and Jennifer, and tonight’s dinner only made her more curious. Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between Brian and Jennifer than met the eye.

Reading his mom's thoughts, Brian volunteered, 'I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you Jennifer and I are just roommates.'

About a week later, Jennifer came to Brian saying, 'Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle we used that night. You don't suppose she took it, do you?'

Brian said, 'Well, I doubt it, but I'll send her an e-mail just to be sure. So he sat down and wrote:

“Dear Mom,

I'm not saying that you 'did' take the gravy ladle from the house, I'm not saying that you 'did not' take the gravy ladle. But the fact remains that one has been missing ever since you were here for dinner. Love, Brian”

Several days later, Brian received an e-mail back from his mother that read:

“Dear Son, I'm not saying that you 'do' sleep with Jennifer, I'm not saying that you 'do not' sleep with Jennifer. But the fact remains that if Jennifer is sleeping in her own bed, she would have found the gravy ladle by now.  Love, Mom”



Contributed by Tresa Frazier

Jack wakes up with a huge hangover after attending his Company's Christmas Party. Jack is not normally a drinker, but the drinks didn't taste like alcohol at all.  He didn't even remember how he got home from the party.

As bad as he was feeling, he has this lingering worry that he did something wrong last night. Jack has to force himself to open his eyes.  The first thing he sees is a couple of aspirins next to a glass of water on the side table. And next to them lay a single red rose!!

Jack sits up and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean and pressed.  He looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly clean.  Something fishy is going on, Jack is certain.

Jack goes to the restroom to get some water to take the aspirins with.  He cringes when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror.  “How did I get that shiner?” he wonders.

Then he notices a note hanging on the corner of the mirror written in red with little hearts on it and a kiss mark from his wife in lipstick:

“Honey, breakfast is on the stove. I left early to get groceries to make you your favorite dinner tonight.  I love you, darling!   Your Sweetheart, Jillian “

Bewildered, Jack stumbles to the kitchen.  He is amazed to discover there is hot breakfast, steaming hot coffee and, best of all, the morning newspaper.

As he reads the paper, Jack’s son comes down the stairs.  Jack asks, 'Son, do you have any idea what happened last night?'

“Well, Dad, you came home after 3 A.M., drunk and out of your mind. You fell over the coffee table and broke it and then you puked in the hallway and got that black eye when you ran into the door.”

Confused, Jack asks his son another question.  “So why didn’t your mother murder me in my sleep like she always threatens?  And why is everything in such perfect order and so clean?  Your mother hates housework!  Why do I have a rose and why is breakfast is on the table waiting for me??”

His son replies, “Oh THAT!  Yeah, well, there was a moment when I did think you were a goner. Mom found you passed out on the floor in all that puke.  She was so mad she was ready to cut you into small pieces.  She was cursing up a blue streak as she dragged you to the bedroom to clean you up.  But when she tried to take your pants off, you screamed, 'Leave me alone, you hussy, I'm happily married!!'“





From: Rhonwyn Baker
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 9:00 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: All call for men to volunteer for Beginning 2-step


If you have a hot-line to volunteers for evening up the partnerships, please send out an S.O.S. to those men who can help. I was at 5 men and 21 women when all was counted.....three of us ladies being helpers or the Beginning 2-step class on Sunday afternoon. It was an amazing imbalance the likes of which I have not ever seen before at our studio.

The women handled it beautifully and were good sports to take this in stride but I would like to think we could do better for them for next week. You know it's nicer if you actually get to practice dancing your own part.

Thanks, Rhonwyn




RICK ARCHER’S NOTE: I originally wrote the testimony listed below to read at the Mr. Hat Party.  However once I realized the party had turned into a Celebration of Gary’s Life, I decided this testimony was far too serious in tone to share at the party. 

That said, let me share something with you.  The Mr. Hat Party was something I thought about doing long before I learned of Tracy Schweinle’s financial plight.  My original plan was to devote attention to Gary’s memory.  But as far as I was concerned, Tracy really needed our help more than anything.  So I turned the focus of the party from Gary over to Tracy. 

As I said earlier, our group came through like champions.  So consider that a mission accomplished.

But in my mind, I was sad that I was unable to focus much attention on the memory of Gary Schweinle.  And guess what?  Gary would have wanted it that way.  Gary would have been very happy that we turned our attention to Tracy’s needs at a time when he himself was no longer able to help her.   So I am okay with changing the nature of last week’s party.

Nevertheless, there were two people in particular who were conspicuously absent Saturday night.

One person who was missing from the party was Kimberly Schweinle, Gary’s lovely 20-something daughter.  Kimberly has been completely distraught over the loss of her Father.  Many people are unaware of this, but Kimberly lost her mother in a horrible car accident seven years earlier.  The double tragedy that has hit Kim at such a young age has been a terrible burden for her.

After Gary’s accident, Tracy was unable to go back to work for months. In a similar fashion, Kimberly has been totally unable to concentrate on her nursing school studies and has fallen behind in her studies.  Kim says she feels abandoned, lost, confused… the works. 

It is my understanding that there have been some rumors floating around about Gary’s daughters.  As far as I am concerned, Kim stayed pretty much out of that.  In fact, this past Sunday Kim and Tracy spent two hours together as they volunteered their time in MG Anseman’s Western class at the studio.  No one ordered Kim to help out last Saturday.  Kim came of her own free will because she remembers SSQQ with fondness too.  It would break my heart if we left Kim out in the cold.

So I am going to ask another favor.  Whatever you have heard, don’t take it out on Kimberly.  She needs a friend, not someone treating her like some sort of leper.  I know Kimberly is a great kid.  Like her father Gary, Kim has been volunteering her time here at the studio as well for the past six years.  I have watched Kim grow from an angry, confused kid (right after her mother’s tragic death) to become a beautiful young lady.  Yes, I understand that now she is back to being angry and confused again… but who wouldn’t be under the same circumstances? 

So the next time you see Kimberly, give her hug, not a frown.  We need to do a complete job of healing.  This is the only wound I can think of that has yet to be handled correctly.  I know her Father would be mighty glad if you did.


Speaking of Kimberly’s Dad, so what is it that I wanted to say about Gary at the party last weekend?

I realize that some of this testimonial has previously appeared in other things I have written about Gary, but I don’t think you will mind too much.  After all, this guy was so special I will think you will enjoy being reminded of all the things that made Gary Schweinle special.  RA




November 25, 2008
Written by Rick Archer


I wrote something to share with you all tonight.  But I am only going to read it to you on one condition.  If I start crying or you start crying, I may have to pause for a moment or two.  If that is okay with you, then I will begin. 

Two short months ago, we all lost a great friend when Gary Schweinle was taken from us.  In my opinion, the freak accident that caused Gary’s death was an enormous tragedy.  Untimely death is always the greatest tragedy.  

I can’t speak for everyone here in this room, but by and large Tragedy doesn’t touch our lives very often.  Thank goodness.

But when Tragedy does strike, it creates tremendous pain for the living. 

Tragedy is a part of life we don’t like to talk about very much, but we all know it’s there.   Tragedy could hit at a moment’s notice… car accident, robbery at gunpoint, plane crash, earthquake, fire, or god forbid even a terrorist attack.   One moment we are happy; the next moment we are gone.  And our friends are forced to pick up the pieces.

Gary Schweinle was certainly no stranger to Tragedy.  In 2001, Gary lost his first wife Lynn to a freak car accident in 2001.  A barbecue pit of all things came loose from its trailer hitch.  It flew out of control from the other side of the road and hit Lynn’s car broadside, killing her instantly.   That was an enormous tragedy for Gary and for his daughters.

Gary and his four daughters
Heather, Valarie, Amanda, and Kimberly were devastated.  Gary had lost his wife and his four daughters had lost their mother.  Now it fell upon Gary to pick up the pieces.  How is a father supposed to instantly know how to fill their mother’s role?  And who was supposed to take care of Gary in his own hour of need?  Where was he going to find the strength?  Gary was just as devastated as the girls were.  

Overwhelmed by intense pain and burdened by the responsibility of raising these four girls alone, Gary found solace in just about the strangest place imaginable: SSQQ Dance Studio.

I am now going to read an excerpt from an article I wrote about Gary.  At his funeral, a woman named Kathleen Rose told a remarkable story.  Here it is:

“As Kathleen Rose went up to the front to speak at Gary’s funeral, I (rick archer) was curious to hear what Kathleen had to say.  Kathleen's story completely blew me away.  This is what she told us:

Kathleen spoke of meeting Gary for the first time at SSQQ.  Apparently they started dance classes at the same time back in 2002.  Gary was in Kathleen's Twostep class which I believe was being taught by MG Anseman. 

As you know, it is an ssqq tradition to do a pattern and change partners as we rotate around in a circle. 

When Kathleen and Gary were paired up, Kathleen struck up a conversation.  After reading his name tag, Kathleen asked, "So where are you from, Gary?"  Kathleen was stunned to discover that Gary had come all the way from Anahuac.  Isn't that kind of a long drive, Gary?  Oops... time to switch partners. 

The next time Gary came around, Kathleen asked why Gary had driven so far for something as trivial as a dance class.  "Because my wife was killed in a head-on collision, my daughters cry all the time, so do I, but I have to pick up pieces somehow!"  Kathleen's eyes bulged at that disclosure.  Oops, time to switch partners again. 

Five minutes later, Gary rotated back.  Kathleen was still in shock from Gary's previous remark. She asked why Gary had told her such personal information.  "Heck, I gotta tell someone.  I can't stand it!  I'm miserable!"

For two entire hours during the dance class, Gary told Kathleen his terrible life story in one and two minute segments as they rotated through partners. 

Have you ever heard a more absurd anecdote?  I swear my mouth dropped at this strange tale and tears welled up in my eyes.  This poor man must have been in so much pain!  Meanwhile the quiet help from a total stranger like Kathleen allowed him to share his grief.  I don't know if Freud ever recommended therapy in a dance class, but that was the day that Kathleen made a huge difference by asking simple questions and caring about the answers.  Some of the best therapists are just good listeners.

I will share that Gary told me on several different occasions that the studio helped him recover his sanity.  Gary claimed that the time he spent here at ssqq allowed him to get on with his life.  Those are very strong words.  I would always smile and accept that Gary was sincere, but to myself I thought he must be exaggerating the importance. 

How can a dance studio make that kind of difference?  I barely knew who Gary was back when he started.  I certainly could not recall anything I had said or done to help him through the awful misery of his first wife's death.  Furthermore, by the time I came to know him, Gary had already bounced back into the saddle.  And yet here he was trying to give me credit.  Credit for what?  I was plainly mystified.  For all those years, I can't honestly say I ever believed or understood what Gary meant until this very moment when Kathleen shared her story of the Circle of Kindness.

Kathleen's poignant story helped me see what Gary had been trying to explain to me all these years.  I imagine there are twenty other stories floating somewhere around the studio where the kindness of other strangers just like Kathleen also helped Gary on his road to recovery.  Everybody did their small part to cast a blanket of warmth around this troubled, lonely man. 

It was hardly a coordinated effort, but it was an effective.  I doubt seriously that one person knew what the next person was doing.  But over time each person in their own way helped Gary overcome his pain and regain his happiness.

One year later Gary was back on his feet again.  No more wounded bear.  Gary didn’t need SSQQ anymore.  He knew enough dancing to meet girls in the Western clubs.  With his pain behind him, Gary was ready to enjoy life again.  This would the Time to move on to something else, right?  No. 

Gary never left SSQQ.  Quite the contrary.  Gary decided it was his turn to help other people just like Kathleen had helped him.  For the next six years, Gary wrapped a major part of his life around this studio and sought to help this program in any way he could.

Of all the friends he had made, MG was one of the closest.  Why not help MG teach the Texas Twostep?   Gary chose to drive 100 miles roundtrip every Sunday to help MG teach his class.  That’s two hours every Sunday (one hour one way, one hour back).  While Gary was at the studio he would spend two hours helping MG.  Maybe Gary would even stay for the second Sunday class as well and help there too. 

Gary Schweinle would spend four hours each Sunday at SSQQ doing whatever he could to help other people.  Four hours of teaching and two hours of driving of his free time every Sunday just to help other people he didn't even know!  The man probably never had a college course in social work in his life, but so what?  Gary was a born social worker.  Heck, you don't need training.  You just get out there and help!  Gary gave up his Sunday afternoon every week for five years simply because he wanted to contribute. 

Most of the time, Gary's contribution was no greater than showing someone their footwork in dance class or offering some encouragement not to give up too fast.  Simple acts of kindness do not always have to be dramatic. 

But sometimes a simple act of kindness can be more profound than any of us realize at the time.  Gary once told me of a serious moment when his own kind words helped a woman here at the studio change her mind about committing suicide.

Gary said that one night at the studio at the end of Practice Night, the place was pretty much deserted. As Gary walked through the studio, he saw a woman getting ready to leave. Gary had never seen her before in his life. However Gary was instantly worried for her. This woman had the most terrible, awful sad look on her face!  Gary stopped the woman and struck up a conversation.

I am unsure how long the conversation lasted, but Gary said the conversation became very personal. It became obvious the woman was in a lot of pain and really needed a friend. Gary did everything in his power to cheer her up.

A week later, this same woman came up to Gary at the studio. She smiled and clasped both of his hands. She then told Gary thank you. The woman said she was pretty sure that she was going to commit suicide that night when she got home, but the talk with Gary had helped her change her mind. She said that Gary had saved her life.

As Gary told me this story, he was embarrassed. He squirmed in his seat.  The poor man was probably worried that I was going to laugh at him for telling such a sensitive story.  Far from it.  I was in total awe of this man.  His story gave me goose bumps. Gary was a simple man, not someone given to eloquence.  But he had such a great spirit about him!  Gary got his greatest satisfaction from contributing to people's lives, be they friends or strangers.

The story about the distraught woman is not the kind of story you pass around. And it is definitely not the kind of story I would have included in any newsletter.  But I have included it now because it shows what a huge heart this man had. 

Gary was willing to help in any way he was asked to.  In this way, Gary has become an inspiration to all of us.  Besides the fact that the man was funny and friendly, his depth of character touched every single person he came into contact with here at the studio.  It can't be difficult to see why we all love and admire this guy so much.

In addition to his devotion to helping people, we also admired Gary for his storybook romance to his dance studio sweetheart Tracy Kirkland.

True love doesn’t come very often in this lifetime.  True love is so rare that when you find it, you cherish it and you protect it with a passion.  People know that when you lose someone you truly love, you may never get another chance. 

Gary was one of the lucky ones.  After his first wife died so tragically, he found that true love a second time with Tracy.  Their love for each other gave the rest of us so much joy.  I can’t get the vision out of my mind just how happy they were on our Cruise Trip to Italy last summer.  Gary and Tracy shared their honeymoon with us.  Every night at dinner these two lovebirds sat at the table next to us.  All night long I would hear Gary telling stories, drinking wine, laughing and being happier than any man on earth at that moment in time. 

And gosh, the things they laughed about!  You can’t go to any museum in Rome or Athens without being confronted with some of the most graphic nud.ity imaginable.  Gary was always surrounded by several women in our group.  The expressions on the women’s faces as they carefully studied these works of art caused Gary never-ending mirth. Then came the day when they came across some spot decorated with graphic pictures of men and women … you know what I am talking about.  That night at dinner I think Gary cried himself silly with laughter talking about the women’s reactions.

And all the time while Gary laughed, Marla and I smiled at each other.  We were so happy for Tracy and Gary.  Their joy touched us so much.

Gary smiled from head to toe throughout that trip. He beamed with happiness.  Gary was totally fulfilled.  Watching Tracy and Gary together was a beautiful vision that I will cherish as long as I live.

And now Gary has been taken from all of us.

When I first learned of Gary’s death, I thought about Kim and her three sisters.  Oh no, this is déjà vu all over again.  First their mother, now their father! 

My heart goes out to those poor daughters.  I would have to say these four girls are certainly no strangers to tragedy.   Both of their parents died tragic deaths on two separate occasions.   As young as these girls are, they certainly have seen far too much tragedy.

And my next thought went out to what effect Gary’s loss would have on the studio.  I mean, one hundred people from the studio came to the wedding just two months earlier.  Gary’s loss would hurt so many people.  What about our Family here at SSQQ?  We had lost a great friend. 

Until now, SSQQ has been fortunate to largely avoid the dark specter of tragedy.  But why did it have to be Gary?   Why did Gary have to be the one we lost?   Who can overlook the irony that our Circle of Kindness here at SSQQ had helped this man recover from his first tragedy only to lose him to another?   It didn’t seem right. 

But most of all our hearts went out to Gary’s sweetheart Tracy.   For crying out loud, when he died, Gary was still enjoying his honeymoon!   How ironic is it that I published his wedding story and his obituary in the same month of September?  

This is the guy who was SSQQ’s Cinderella Story.  His entire romance was played out before our eyes. Gary met his future wife Tracy at SSQQ.   Gary proposed to his wife Tracy on an SSQQ Cruise Trip.  Gary had 100 friends from SSQQ at his July wedding.  Gary and Tracy took their honeymoon on the SSQQ Cruise Trip to Italy just two months before his death. 

Just Two months to celebrate a storybook romance.  Now that isn’t right, is it? 

How rare is true love?  How hard is it to find a person that you know you wish to share the rest of your life with?  We all know how difficult it is to find love.  So when it happens to two people we really care about, we all rejoice.  The romance between Gary and Tracy was so special that it touched every one of us.  Their joy became our joy.   Every person at SSQQ who knew Gary and Tracy basked in the glow of their happiness together. 

Then came the gut punch when we discovered our favorite fairy tale romance had ended after only two short months.  Now that isn’t right, is it?  According to fairy tales, Gary and Tracy should have been allowed to live happily ever after.  Yeah, happily ever after for two whole months.  That isn’t right at all.

Of all the countless people who have graced this studio with their presence, out of all these people, there was one man, one single man, who believed in this studio more than anyone else.  This man was Gary Schweinle.  Why should we have to lose our hero?

As for me, I can’t turn sidewise without being reminded of Gary every single day of the week.  Whenever I see a hat, I think of Gary.  Whenever I hear of a new hurricane, I think of Gary.  Whenever I look at SSQQ Halloween costumes, I think of Gary.  Whenever I think about SSQQ cruise trips, I think of Gary.  Whenever I add names to the SSQQ list of weddings, I think of Gary.  Whenever someone asks if they can volunteer for a class here at SSQQ, I think of Gary. 

The spirit of Gary Schweinle permeates every single corner of this studio.  Of all the thousands of people who have passed through this studio, why did this tragedy have to take the single most popular student in the long history of SSQQ?  

And that is why we call it tragedy.   It is a Tragedy when we lose someone who is valuable.  It is a Tragedy when we lose someone whose main purpose is the desire to contribute.  It is a Tragedy when we lose someone who spreads warmth wherever they go.   It is a Tragedy when a leader is taken from us.

Ironically, Gary came to SSQQ to try to recover from a Tragedy.  And now he leaves us thanks to a Tragedy.

I will conclude now with a recent letter written to me by Gary’s wife Tracy. 


“Dear Rick and Marla, just got your recent newsletter,

Your story in the newsletter made me realize how often in life we take things for granted.  I have been painfully aware of that fact ever since I lost Gary.  Even though Gary and I were the "perfectly obnoxiously couple in love" as dubbed by our SSQQ family, I STILL wish I had told Gary how much I loved him more often.  When your loved one is gone, you realize that you NEVER really tell them how much you love them as much as you should have. (And I told him I loved him a lot).

It just never seems like it was enough after they are gone.

Rick, that's why I need to tell you how much your newsletter (and the studio) means to all of us.
When Gary and I first started dating, he was actually on time.....I know that is hard for a lot of people to believe. Of course, I usually wasn't ready, so Gary would sit down at my computer and start reading the SSQQ newsletter.  

Gary would holler to me what was going on at the studio, and before long, I was looking over his shoulder, with one boot on, and holding the other boot, reading it along with him.  Of course, we were always late, but it wasn't always because of Gary.  We simply blamed it on the newsletter.

Gary ALWAYS called SSQQ his extended family, and I felt that way too.  Don't you remember all those years ago when I first started, and used to dance "right into the mirrors"?  I was a mess, but I loved my time here.

All the friends that I have came from the studio.  Let me repeat that: “All the friends that I have came from the studio.”

When I first got divorced, I had absolutely no family here other than my children. My fellow SSQQ dance students became my Family, as the same thing happened for Gary. 

Now I am proud to say that my family and his family have intermingled.  I am blessed to have twice as many family members as I did before.  

Rick, Gary and I have always thought of you as "The Godfather" of our family. (That was Gary's nickname for you)  And Gary always loved to give you credit for his extended family.  I know he wishes that he had told you that himself, he always said, "I need to let Rick know how much he has meant to me" when he talked about himself after his first wife died.  But, I am finding out that when we are happy and everything is going right, that we don't let the people in our life know what they mean to us.  It is the same way with the dance studio. 

Losing Gary has really knocked the wind out of my sails.  I have cried every day for the last 68 days, more than I have cried collectively my whole life. I didn't think that a person COULD cry that long, but I have found out it is possible.  But, I have never experienced this kind of loss before......we were still on our honeymoon, for God's sake.  You're not supposed to lose your husband on your honeymoon??!!  We didn't even have time to start irritating each other yet!!! 

Even though the outcome has been tragic, I still believe that it far outweighs the alternative.  Because of SSQQ, I have had the "BEST" 4 years of my life with Gary.   That’s right; Gary gave me the Best Four Years of my life. 

Without your studio, Otherwise, I would never have met Gary.  And think of all the other people that have met each other because of your studio.  If knowing now, that I would lose Gary in such a short period of time ... would I change anything?  NO WAY..... It was SOOOOOO worth it.  I loved him more than life itself, and I still do. I'll bet all the people from SSQQ that have met their special someone feel the same way.

I KNOW that there are FAR MANY MORE PEOPLE THAT LOVE YOU AND MARLA than you know.  We are all just lazy, and forget that we NEED to let the people that we love and admire know just how we feel, and most of the time we don't until it is too late.

So please, from Gary and me, just know that we have always appreciated everything that you do for us.  SSQQ just isn't a dance studio, it is FAMILY.  I know we aren't the only people that feel that way.  You and Marla are the patriarch and matriarch, and you should feel very proud to be the head of this HUGE family.

You and Marla are people that have flocked to me.  It is because of your support, and the support of the SSQQ community, that I can go on in this horribleness.

Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart, (and I know Gary's as well) .  You and Marla mean an awful lot to ALL of us, even if we don't always show it.

Tracy Kirkland Schweinle”

Well, everyone that’s the end of Tracy’s letter, but we can’t ever let this be the end of our memory of Gary Schweinle. 


Gary will always be the man I think of when I wonder why the heck I ever put up with all the nonsense I complain about all the time.  Why?   Because this man inspires me.  Thank you, Gary, for reminding me of the importance of helping other people. 


Gary, my friend, my buddy, the guy that I called Mr. Hat, will always be my hero.  He is the guy who taught me the importance of giving.       RA



From: Joel Konkel
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 1:48 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Road Trip to San Marcos!!! (Hangar Dance!)

Hi Rick!

Here is a synopsis of our Road Trip to San Marcos!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Annual CAF Veteran's Day Dinner & 40's Swing Band Hangar Dance

Centex Hangar at the San Marcos, Texas Airport
The Sentimental Journey Orchestra playing 40s Big Band Swing music
Dinner at 6-7:30pm, Dancing at 7:30-11pm
Silent Auction / Dance Contest
$30/person - BYOB

CAF stands for the Commemorative Air Force

Twenty Two folks from SSQQ made it there from Houston dressed in 1940s style apparel!  The 19 piece band was great and they were dressed in 1940s uniforms.  There was an appearance by the Andrew Sisters and Bing Crosby for a few songs! 

It was a fund raiser for the CAF and it sold out at 1,000 tickets and was held in an airplane hangar and various vintage World War II aircraft were parked outside.  On the far end of the hangar the B-25 bomber was parked in the doorway and became a great photo op!  And at the event they had the soldier from the famous WWII picture kissing the nurse in Times Square at the end of the war signing photos of the famous picture for a donation!

In addition to all the festivities, they did have a dance contest!  It was broken down into two groups based on age.  The participants got numbers to put on their backs and it turned out that there were about 25 couples in each group.  The band played a song for each group and the judges made notes and allowed the participants to complete the entire song.  The judges then went and compared their notes and came up with First, Second and Third place couples for both groups.

And folks who learned their swing at SSQQ took First place in each group!!!  Ricky Reynosa and Laurette Mcdonald won in their group and Lori Hill and Joel Konkel (pictured left) took First place in their group!

It was a fun evening for everyone! 

Enclosed is a group photo of everyone who went standing in front of the WWII B-25 bomber!

Jess and Pat Carnes

Ricky Reynosa and Laurette Mcdonald




First of all, if anyone had ever told me that Joel Konkel would win a Swing Contest when I first met the man two years ago, I would have told him he was crazy.

Joel is not a naturally gifted dancer.  He learns everything the hard way.  Joel doesn’t always hear the beat, he dances a little too rough sometimes while he is learning a move, and he dances like a white man.  But you know what?  I couldn’t care less.  I love Joel Konkel!

To paraphrase Martin Luther King’s “Judge not a man by the color of his skin but by the content of his heart,” Joel should never be judged by his natural dance ability but rather for his incredible warmth and friendly nature.  That is what is important to me.  Joel is such a kind man, just bubbling over with enthusiasm that is so infectious.  I always grin around Joel.  He has the wonderful ability to make me smile and laugh. Joel makes everyone around him happy.

It is no accident that Joel started in our notorious “Two Left Feet” class back in January 2007.  That tickles me pink.  Two Left Feet is taught by our cosmic instructor Jill Banta.  This quaint little class is notorious as a refuge for the sick, the weak, the mentally impaired and the physically infirm when it comes to dancing.  People always ask why there is handicapped parking right in front of studio.  But thanks to Jill, people enter that class in wheelchairs and come out as dance champions!!

You think I am kidding?  No way!  Did you know that Three-time World Champion Dancer Joel McCleskey, an ssqq Sunday volunteer, also started in Two Left Feet?   (

That is too funny – two Joels, Two Left Feet, two dance champions! 

Now Joel McCleskey is a natural.  No question about it.  Such a gift!  Such grace on the floor.  By the way, Joel M said that he and his lovely wife Ruth will be happy to perform for us at our annual Christmas Party on Friday, December 19th.  That’s when you will really get to see poetry in motion.  But I will talk about the gifted Mr. McCleskey another time.

Right now, the spotlight is on our other dance champion, the incredible Mr. Konkel.  Now Joel didn’t set out to win any dance contests.  Joel K simply got good by accident. He enjoyed the music, he enjoyed the dancing, he enjoyed the friendship and he enjoyed the pretty girls.  Joel K not only took every one of our Swing classes several times, he easily put in more time practicing Swing Dancing than anyone else in the entire studio for two years.  You know what?  The next thing Joel knew, he was improving!

I openly admit I am not much of a natural dancer either.  So I can appreciate the magnitude of Joel’s accomplishment.  But even turtles like him and me have their day!  We just keep plugging along.  So I can tell you that it gives me a big smile to report that Joel Konkel – of all people! - won a dance contest.  It warms my heart to see a big likeable lug like him do well!  Nice going, big guy!  I am proud of you!



The thing that bothers me about the Hangar Dance is that not one person told me about the event ahead of time.  It really sounded like a lot of fun.

I mean, if I didn’t know about it, I bet there are other people at the studio who never knew about it either.  Maybe some of those people would have liked to go along.

I hear about a Western group that goes out dancing the Second Saturday of the month.  I don’t know much about it because they never invite me (there may actually be a reason I don’t get invited, but we won’t go there.)

The point I am trying to make is that I have a Newsletter that goes out to a lot of people who are interested in hearing about different dance events. 

I don’t understand why people don’t post events with me in advance so I can publicize it.  All it takes is an email.

See how easy it is to get an event posted?  No charge, no sweat, it is that simple.  So if you are trying to organize something, let me know about it.  If your event conflicts with studio activities, then I will decide whether to publish it or not, but more likely than not I will give it an “Okay”.  It doesn’t hurt to ask.


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