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Letters to the Editor :  Shaggie Saga Readers Respond!


I read your “Shaggie Saga” after being directed to your website from HornFans.com. 

After suppressing my bodies autonomic laugh response, I was able to regain my composure.  I then concluded the following:

·         I was very impressed by your writing style and wit.
The majority of people, including a fair number of Aggies will agree with your initial assessment of this saga.  Regardless of legal justification, this is ludicrous.
If TAMU follows through with this Draconian tirade, I suggest that you contact the Houston Texas Exes and try to arrange a fund-raiser for your legal defense fund.  You might hold an “Animal House” style dance party where attendees are encouraged to dress like “Niedermayer” and you teach the “Forbidden Word” Jitterbug.  Although Niedermayer dressed like a Nazi, I don’t think the Nazi Party will attempt to prosecute any trademark infringement claims.  Sorry, but I can’t speak for any other “Brown-Shirt” pseudo-military organizations. 

Good luck to you.  It’s not easy standing up to such oppression.  BR

(Editors Note- the Shaggie Freedom Fighters will do their best to continue the struggle knowing that Texas Exes have promised to stage an "Animal House" Fun Raiser if we end up in jail!  A party of that magnitude would surely justify risking going to jail to save the Shaggie.)


I hope you don’t mind, but I did email a link to your letter to the Michigan law firm to...plus, well...pretty much every Longhorn I know. If your click rate dramatically increases over the next couple of days you’ll know why. That was hilarious --- from my very biased perspective, anyhow.  SK

(Editors Note- As we warned the Michigan Lawyer, while this incident may be a major headache for the owner of a certain Houston dance studio, the vast majority of the human race thinks the "Shaggie Saga" makes Texas A&M.

However, I think you wasted your time with the Michigan Law Firm.  Who wants to bet the Michigan Lawyer doesn't see the humor?)


Just wanted to let you know I will vote for my favorite jokes a bit later tonight, so hold off on the tabulation.

I'm sure that's the last thing on your mind anyway. I just finished reading the continuing Shaggie Saga Seven -- 

Touche! You have my support.  SS

(Editors Note- Maybe I should start soliciting contributions to my defense fund  :-)


is this the same rick archer that ran into the Forbidden Word wranglers in puerto vallarta many years ago? G92

(Editors Note-  I have heard that Congressman Bill Archer's son went to the University of Texas and shares my name.

But no, that wasn't me. I would enjoy hearing the story though. Sounds interesting.)



As an Aggie graduate I would like to apologize to you for any headaches the legal counsel for my alma mater may have caused you.

Unfortunately, as a professional in the Intellectual property field, I have to agree with their actions.  Trademarks are only as valuable as your zeal in defending them.  This is why boxes are labeled with Band-Aid “brand” adhesive strips, and Kleenex “Brand” facial tissues.  If trademarks are not defended properly, they can be lost.

A&M’s actions should not be construed as mean spirited or excessive.  Keep in mind the tremendous amount of scholarships that are granted and facilities that are built out of the revenues that come from their licensing programs.  I would imagine that if you wanted to license a trademark of theirs, you could do it for just a nominal fee, perhaps less than the $500 you donated.

If A&M had pursued their complaint against you with any less enthusiasm, another party could use it against them at a later date to invalidate their trademark.

Also please understand that as large as the A&M system is, a tremendous bureaucracy is inevitable.  I sent in my $$$ the former students association back in early January and only yesterday got my “thank you” letter.  Like most institutions, they take a little longer than they should for such formalities.

Furthermore, as a past customer of yours, I would like to thank you for providing a great service to the people of Houston.  Keep up the good work.

Also, Don’t let anybody from UT or UH fool you into thinking that their alma maters wouldn’t take EXACTLY the same action.  To do otherwise would be extremely foolish.  LH


Thank you for your letter. You know what?  To some extent, I happen to agree with you. 

However in this case the argument that I infringed on A&M intellectual property is stretching things.  I never once used the name of the University.  I never claimed any affiliation with the University.  I never used logos or pictures related to the University to promote my dance class.

The ShAGGIE Jitterbug just happens to be the name it is called by around here.  But who wants to waste time proving which Aggie I am referring to?  Utah State?  New Mexico State?  North Carolina A&T State?  Or for that matter the
University of California at Davis Aggies?  

Here is an important question: Why doesn't Texas A&M sue those Universities for name infringement?  By TAMU's specious reasoning, those four Universities are just as guilty as me.

For that matter, an "aggie" is also a marble.  Why can't I spread some marbles around my classroom and pretend that's where the name from? 

Really now, do you think Texas A&M has a lock on the name "Aggie"?   Obviously not.

I just didn't have the energy to fight the zealots.  As they say, it wasn't worth the fight.  Some moron would surely empty the State Coffers throwing untold tax-payer dollars beating me into submission while I lose my life savings defending myself?

Instead I have used the only real weapon at my disposal - poking my finger in their eye.

I guess my only real gripe was how awkwardly it was handled. I never needed to be threatened. I would have acceded to their wishes willingly. I didn’t need to hear about my “blatant act of greed”, my “serious trademark intrusion, “ and my “illegal use of our valuable trademark”. There were more than a few times when I was pretty hot under the collar at what I was being accused of. I remember the last letter where A&M said they had decided not to sue me at this time. For crying out loud!

I think it is the ham-handed way that so many different people handled such an innocuous situation is what made the whole thing so totally ridiculous. Not once did anyone bother to be nice to me. Hence I felt called upon to fight back the only way I thought was appropriate - tongue in cheek. 

On the other hand, you are right about everything you said. These people are paid to be vigilant. That is their job. They might however try to develop try a bit more finesse in the future before they bring in the cannons.

(LH: reader's reply to Rick Archer's reply above)

Well if they had better social skills, then they wouldn’t be good lawyers.... :)

I remember running into problems when I took my senior design report to Kinkos to get it copied.  They refused to copy the cover (which had an official A&M seal) unless I had permission or a paid license.  Apparently, kinkos has been hit real hard (not just by universities) for copyright and trademark suits.  Since I was submitting the report to my department head (for which I certainly had permission), I just went ahead and made the cover copies myself, and had them bind it with the rest of the text.

“Blatant act of greed” is pushing the envelope of good taste on that matter though.  Chalk it up to some arrogant a** in a Michigan Law firm.  Probably the most junior guy in the firm (as your action couldn’t be large enough to warrant a high price lawyer’s attention) or even a “form” letter response.

You might try to license the mark.  I would imagine that it would hardly cost you anything to do such.  I have bought more than my fair share of $8-10 “licensed” t-shirts.

Or, just call it the College Station Jitterbug.... folks should get the idea from that.

The Houston Press published an interesting story by Lauren Kern in its May 4th edition. To read it, visit the Houston Press web site



First, let me say THANK YOU for your Aggie (oops) scholarship donation. As a past president of a large north Texas A&M club, I know how difficult raising money can be and your efforts should be commended.  I am ashamed that there was no local representation and no correspondence afterwards. After being involved in years of A&M club activities and working closely with the Association of Former Students putting on many fund raising events, I know how much the people who help mean to all these efforts.

Second, let me say that Mr.(?) Huzar is nuts. I have had to deal with some of the same things you have going through in the past few months and the way this was approached from the beginning was not the way to get things done. It also seems that there has been selective enforcement of the trademark issue.

Not that I have any authority to authorize anything, but if it were up to me you can continue to teach the Aggie Jitterbug anytime you wish, to Aggies or non-Aggies, charge Aggie Bucks, make Aggie Profits, and make Aggie Donations (now I guess I'll get some threatening letters like you did for using the "Forbidden" Aggie word).

Please do not think that Aggies in general are anything like Huzar. Most of us are really likeable people, even if we do have to take dance lessons. I also didn't realize there was an Aggie Jitterbug. I thought any Aggie doing any jitterbug was an Aggie Jitterbug. I guess there could be an Aggie Two Step, Aggie Mamba, or Aggie Waltz (darn, there I go again).

Again, THANKS for you hard work, humor, and patience.

Gig'em Aggies
Mike Miller ' 85

Mr. Miller, 

What a cheerful note!  Thank you! 

I wish for you to know that it is very clear to me that this incident is not at all representative of the vast majority of the A&M community. This was the silly work of but a couple people. It was irritating at times to put up with the nonsense, but for the most part it made for good theater. At this point the whole affair brings a chuckle which is hopefully where it will stay. 

Thanks again for the nice note! 

This article is reprinted from Summer 2000 issue of the Touchstone. 


by Don Arnold

There's a tattoo shop on University drive that had a message like this on its sign: "Tattoo: Permanent record of temporary insanity." My feelings about tattoos and other body modifications are like my feelings about abortion; you can do what you like with your body but this one is not for me.

Sometimes people do things that make me reconsider.

Whenever someone who appears to represent A&M goes well above and beyond the call of normal stupidity my butt begins to itch. This itch reminds me of a long held desire to have a maroon block ATM tattooed on my ass as a very personal statement about stupidity at A&M. So far I've been able to resist this impulse out of respect for those many reasonable good folks who have deep regard for A&M's symbols. I don't know if I will be able to remain unmarked in light of the current heights of aggie lunacy.

A little over a generation ago I changed from wandering around campus as a "local boy" to a "student at A&M." That's what most locals who went to A&M wanted to be called. We weren't "aggies" because "aggies" were not held in high esteem. It was a combination of contempt bred by years of intimate contact with aggies and wanting to avoid the enforced homogeneity of the white boy military cow college that was just beginning to transform itself into a state university.

As the university has continued to mature and diversify I have felt more and more like the term aggie is not an insult. I know so many people who have brought richness, quality, and depth to A&M who called themselves aggies that they have redeemed the word for me.

But now that I am finally ready to stand up and be counted as an official aggie, I find that it's against the law.

At least in the state of Texas. Without A&M's official permission.

Here's what's happened in a nutshell. A dance studio down in Houston called SSQQ was teaching something called the "Aggie Jitterbug" and some "former student" got his jock strap all twisted about SSQQ using the term "aggie" without formal written permission from A&M. Since early this year letters and threats have been lobbed from A&M's Collegiate Licensing Office into SSQQ's mailbox. Luckily for us Rick Archer, the owner of SSQQ, has posted all the legal lunacy on the SSQQ website.

I've visited SSQQ over the past couple of months. It's a nice, friendly, affordable, family oriented place. They've even been able to teach this fat old white boy a few dance steps, although I still don't have much rhythm. As best I can figure Mr. Archer has bent over backwards in his responses to A&M's attack. It looks like that's not the direction some folks in the A&M trademark army want him to bend.

For way too many years now A&M has pursued a policy of trademarking everything it can get its maroon and white fingers on. Now the concept of a government body using trademark laws to "own" ideas that were created at taxpayer expense may, in some convoluted way, be legal but it sure ain't moral. Over the years I've read too many of A&M's official pronouncements about the need to "protect" the integrity of A&M's symbols from the degradations inflicted by those evil folks who used to sell three hole building bricks as "Aggie bowling balls" or "Sex at A&M" bumper stickers (or apply tattoos) with a feeling of deep sadness at the destruction of joyful play by pompous money grubbing nitwits at A&M.

But this is going to damn far. Nobody working for A&M coined the term "Aggie" or even "Texas Aggie" dammit!  Anyone with a double digit IQ can read old newspapers and figure this one out. A&M has no more moral or legal right to the word aggie inside or outside of the state of Texas than the Texas Criminal Justice System (prisons) have to the word "con."

I try to be a reasonable person. I am thankful for all the kind, patient, and compassionate people I know in Aggieland. But sometimes my passions overcome me. I'm afraid that soon they will compel me, against my "better judgment" to acquire a tattoo including the word "aggie" where the sun don't shine. That way I can express my respect for this insanity at least once a day. Perhaps A&M's Collegiate Licensing Office would consider suing me over it. I'd love the opportunity to display the "unauthorized" application of their supposed trademark to them in person.

I'm open to suggestions for artwork to enhance the ink stained experience. Maybe there are some arty political folks out there who'd like to make "Aggie" tattoos into a genre all its own. Let me hear from you.

As always, Don Arnold

(979) 696-0731

Reprint from the March 2003 SSQQ Newsletter


Most people have no idea that back in 2000 SSQQ was nearly sued by Texas A&M University over a dance known as the “forbidden word” Jitterbug. Hint: the Forbidden Word rhymes with Shaggie. Now three years later it seems a distant memory.

Still too frightened to say the word myself, a nice email from a graduate of A&M prompted me to offer an upcoming Crash Course in the Forbidden Dance on April 26.

February 17, 2003
Email letter to Rick Archer

“Howdy Rick!

I’m confused about what dance steps people are using whenever ‘jitterbug’ music is played at Wild West, Midnight Rodeo, Big Texas.

People are not doing jitterbug. And it does not look like East Coast Swing either.

Gloria Sanchez told me that many people do what is called the ‘Aggie jitterbug’ in the country bars. She mentioned that there was a Crash Course in this.

East Coast Swing does not seem to work well for me in the Country bars.

It’s probably me. Can you offer advice???

Thanks, Lester Byrd”



Lester, the Forbidden Word Jitterbug remains a sore topic at my studio. A few years back I was nearly sued for teaching a course in this dance. As a result we now refer to it as Shaggie Jitterbug.

It was then and still remains one of the most bizarre stories in SSQQ history.

Here is the description of the Forbidden Dance.

Shaggie Jitterbug

Also sometimes called "Street Swing" or "Hand Dancing", here at SSQQ we have renamed this style of Swing Dancing to "Shaggie Jitterbug". Swing dancing can be danced at many different levels. Swing Dancing can vary from the primitive forms of Swing used in high school to Swing danced with precise footwork, timing, and leads in dance exhibitions.

Falling somewhere in the middle between "High School Swing" and "Professional Swing" is "Shaggie Jitterbug". This particular style of Swing Dancing is very popular at College Station. It is fast and eye-catching, but pretty rough on the arms and can tire you out quickly if you aren't careful. "Shaggie Jitterbug" can also be seen in many of Houston's Western Clubs as the dance is not at all exclusive to Texas A&M. In fact it is danced in many places throughout the state of Texas.

In the "Shaggie Jitterbug", basically the boy pulls the girl in one direction and she keeps going till she gets to the end of her arm (or "arms" if she still has both). Both the boy and girl lean away from each other in a classic tug-of-war position until the tension in her arms causes the girl to snap back towards the boy rubberband-style. At this point, the next move begins.

With famous moves like the Pretzel, the Rope, and the Weave, "Shaggie Jitterbug" when done well can be pretty flashy. In many ways it resembles the early Disco dancing done in Houston shortly after the appearance of "Saturday Night Fever". One of the advantages of "Shaggie Jitterbug" is it is easy to learn because there is a minimum of footwork. Another advantage is there aren't very many patterns, so people can concentrate on doing a few patterns well. Finally, if someone is "rhythm-impaired", this is a great dance because there is no set timing.

However the "Shaggie Jitterbug" also has its drawbacks. Since the "Shaggie Jitterbug" has no "timing", it is done pretty much at the same speed to every song. This makes it tougher for the girl to follow and also keeps the dance from having much style in relationship to the music.

Second, it is often danced quite fast. At its best the speed can be very flashy, but the downside is people wear out.

Third, women can get hurt. Although using your arms to stop is easy to learn, after awhile your arms get sore!! Also moves like the Pretzel and the Rope can easily lead to a woman getting bopped in the head by an inadvertent elbow if the man doesn't know what he is doing. Ouch!

Fourth, there is no obvious way to get a breather. The dance is pretty much perpetual motion. Swing Dancing with systematic footwork and timing includes several simple stop and rest points, but not "Shaggie Jitterbug".

Fifth, some people consider "Shaggie Jitterbug" to be a "lowest common denominator" dance. In other words, if the lady doesn't know Swing timing and footwork, the man can shift "down" to leading "Shaggie Jitterbug". Or if the man can't lead Swing, the lady will be forced to adapt to his particular style of "Shaggie Jitterbug". Although the "Shaggie Jitterbug" has its loyalists, most people who know both system-Swing and "Shaggie Jitterbug" prefer system-Swing.

System Swing has more patterns, the footwork makes it easier to stop without having to use arm tension, the dancing fits the music, and the pace allows for fast action as well as breathers in the middle.

In summary, "Shaggie Jitterbug" is popular because it is easy to learn and can be used almost immediately by Beginners. Consider it a sort of "training wheels" Swing Dance. There is something to be said for a Swing Dance that can learned quickly. For example, seventh graders don't have the discipline to pick up System Swing, but adapt to the "Shaggie Jitterbug" quickly.

However as a serious dance, the "Shaggie Jitterbug" lacks style and grace because it has no relationship to the music. There are just a minimum of patterns due to the lack of footwork and timing. Finally, it is incredibly tiring and very rough on the body. Women report their arms are extremely sore after a night of dancing this way.

My major reason for liking this dance is that it can be used with a total stranger who has never had a lesson in Swing footwork. However due to allegations of "serious trademark infringements" and the threat of an A&M lawsuit SSQQ no long offers "Shaggie Jitterbug" classes under its "Real Name". You probably think this is a "you-know-what" Joke, but believe it or not, it is the truth.

However SSQQ is not prevented from teaching the "Forbidden Dance" under its new name, the Shaggie Jitterbug. Look for it as a Crash Course from time to time.


“Your descriptions are EXACT. Thanks!!!

I don’t feel so bad about not knowing what they were doing...because it doesn’t sound like they really know what they are doing....Thanks!!!

I danced with a lady who was doing this Aggie Jitterbug (a graduate of A&M has the right to call it what it is) and got lost very quickly but...I remembered everything I have been told in my dance classes and was a complete gentleman...It was awful...I stayed out there and ‘toughed it out’ until the song was over (Charlie Daniel’s - Devil Goes Down To Georgia) and then did not dance with her again.

By the way, I just now read your first link listing all the threatening letters.

I’m an ‘Forbidden Word’ Class of ’79 graduate. I apologize for that nonsense.

For what it’s worth, I really enjoy SSQQ and have tried to recruit people ever since I started coming. You and your staff do a great job!”


"Thanks, Lester. I am very clear the entire fiasco was orchestrated by two people with an overzealous attitude. No harm was done and I like A&M graduates a lot.

Thanks to your email, Rachel Seff is scheduled to teach a Shaggie Jitterbug Crash Course on Saturday, April 26. Hope you can make it!"

Rick Archer”




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