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September 2007

Weekly Wrap: We've Been Busy

by Susan Henderson on September 28, 2007

Welcome back to LitPark! And thanks for telling me your stories of burial grounds and yard sales and cattle drives and relocations and film making and book editing and guitar lessons and car shows and all of the many things you did over the summer that make you so interesting to me.

A lot of people have asked me, “How was Montana?” “How was Paris?” “How was the south of France?” And while I went to those places and had a wonderful time, my memory of this summer has been all about editing my book. I got my edits back in May. And several weeks later, when I was able to pull myself out of the fetal position, I went to work, unstringing all the beautiful sentences I thought were finished to do the tough work of trying to make the book bigger and better than the original.

Editing a piece of writing is very much like taking a knitted sweater and having someone say, “Only small changes, really. Just re-do this bit in the shoulder. And maybe use an alternating color every other row.” And you know very well that this means you’ll have to unravel the entire sweater to make those changes, and once you have a pile of yarn, you have to trust that it will be a sweater again. That it will be a sweater that blows the original out of the water.

Luckily, while I was still in shock and calling myself stupid, failure, mediocre, and other favorite pet names I like to use, Mr. Henderson built me the most awesome, secret office, where I am typing this very blog and also rebuilding the sweater, so to speak.

To get to my office, you have to go through a wisteria tunnel.

The office is hidden in ivy.

And it has a door that’s hard to come across.

Here’s the inside. That’s Jack, one of my dogs. I should straighten that lampshade, I guess.

Maybe you noticed the doll in the window. It’s my first Barbie doll ever, and I got it this summer from the very awesome Heather Fowler. She sent outfits, too!

I have to say I was tempted to cut Barbie’s hair and see what happens when you unscrew her head and stick firecrackers inside. Maybe this is why no one bought me a Barbie as a kid. (Did you know J.C. Penney sells Carol Channing dolls? Mr. Henderson actually does a spot-on imitation of Carol Channing.)

I sit at this desk for hours and hours every day. My desk is usually messier than that. And when I’m on a roll, there will be balled up pieces of paper all over the floor. (Man, I need some artwork on that wall. Over the couch, too.)

My mouse pad is a Roget’s thesaurus. I’ve had this one since high school and it’s falling apart.

I have the coolest view ever out this window. I should probably wash the window, huh?

There are little boxes all around, filled with whatever. This one has rattlesnake tails and bullet shells. Some have tampons and ponytail holders and gum.

This is a tricky section of the book, all laid out so I can see where the problem is. I keep that little bat-girl nearby because I think she’s made of the same stuff as the narrator of my book. I’ve tried to buy that print, but it’s sold out, so I’ve got my eye on Ray Caesar, and next time I love something, I won’t be so slow about it.

There you go – a quickie office tour. Mr. Henderson built the whole thing and painted it and put up the molding and sewed the curtains. It’s an absolutely awesome gift, and now I need to make good use of it and edit this little book the best I know how.

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Real quick, here are my answers to Wednesday’s Top 5 Question: Name 5 famous people you’ve met, and tell a story about at least one of them.

I decided to name some of the folks I was around the most growing up: Vint Cerf (Turing Award winner and considered the father of the internet, and now the “chief internet evangelist” at Google), Herb Simon (Nobel Prize winner, Turing Award winner, and considered the father of Artificial Intelligence), Bob Kahn (Turing Award winner and co-inventor of the internet), Raj Reddy (Turing Award winner; he was also awarded the Legion of Honor by Francois Mitterand, which is how I met the French president).The Turing Award, by the way, is sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize for Computer Science. In other words, I grew up around a whole lot of geeks.

Number 5 was not in my family’s inner circle, but I’ll tell a story for this one. When I was 17, I did my first-ever interview. It was in the West Wing of the White House with Jim Brady, a few years after he was shot in the head. We recently did a big clean-out (part of creating my new office), and I discovered a very humiliating cassette tape, which not only featured me giggling my way through the interview and asking completely inappropriate questions such as, How did it feel to get shot in the head? But after the interview was over, I apparently recorded myself singing my heart out – everything from The Carpenters to Teena Marie. Listening to this tape almost killed me out of sheer embarrassment. Here are some clips from my interview with Brady, talking about the Carter administration, and about Hinckley, and about butts.

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Thank you to my special guest this week, Dr. Dot, who is fun and lovely and created a great time around here with her Top 5 game. Thanks to everyone who linked to LitPark this week: Dr. Dot, Where’s Travis McGee?, and a.k.a. Si Ma Tian. And thanks to those of you who linked me to your Wikipedia pages: Josh, Maria, Tao, and Greg. Have a great weekend!

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Top 5 with Dr. Dot

by Susan Henderson on September 26, 2007

Name 5 famous people you’ve met, and tell a story about at least one of them.

This question is for all my readers, and there’s a reason I think it’s a useful one for writers to think about. If you’re like me, playing is the best way to get the creative ideas flowing. But more importantly, think about what meeting a famous person does to you or your characters. You can often discover a lot about a person’s self-esteem, motives, buttons, and more. So play, and then take what you learn to your writing.

Okay, today’s special guest, Dr. Dot, is going to kick things off with her answers. Who is Dr. Dot? She is the gorgeous masseuse to the rock stars, and her nickname was given to her by the late, great Frank Zappa. What you may not know –  even if you have already heard of her – is that she has written a sure-bet, celebrity-heavy book, BUTT-NAKED AND BACKSTAGE: DIARY OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL MASSEUSE. If you are an agent or publisher, you can contact me or Dot with any interest in her book or in syndicating her sex column.

Okay, Dot. Take it away. Tell us about 5 famous people you’ve met.

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Eminem:

I met Em in 1999, when he hadn’t broken big yet in Germany. I had NO idea who he was but my kid made me go, telling me he is the next big thing. The fact that I had NO clue who Eminem was made them all open up easier to me and we all got along great. He too has a daughter and he too had a fucked up mom, like I did. He too came from a family so poor they couldn’t pay attention.

Eminem is proof, that you can not and should not, judge a book by it’s cover. I not only massaged them all, but showed them around Berlin, to the bank, clubs, cinema, restaraunts, etc. He then invited me to do a bit of the 2000 Up in Smoke tour in the USA, which I did. He treated me like a sister, always polite and generous. I turned him onto Frank Zappa on a few of our many long hauls.

Not a hip hop fan, but I am since meeting Em, an Eminem fan. He is the bomb.

Paris Hilton:

Another strong case for “Don’t be a cunt and judge a book by it’s cover!” I was backstage at Live 8 in London, massaging every star back there, but spent more time with Paris then any one else. She is so beautiful in person, it’s breathtaking. Then she hits you with her generosity and charm and you’re all washed up. She is so sweet and friendly, not fake, like one would imagine after reading Us or In Touch magazine. Paris is real and I defend her shrewdly when and if someone is slagging her off in my presence. “Have you met her!??” I bark. “NO!” is always the answer. “Then shut your fucking pie hole!” I answer back. Since when is it our choice to which parents we are born? She is making the best of what she was given. I adore her!

Roger Waters (IS Pink FLoyd!):

If you ever stumble across my MySpace page, look for the monster blog I wrote about Roger. In short, he has been a hero of mine as long as I can remember. I have met him a few times, but last June I finally got to spend quality time ALONE with Roger. I only charged him for a one hour massage but all in all, I was in his room over 3 hours. I lingered as long as possible on his body, massaging the same parts sometimes over and over, while listening to him talk about his past and present. He is a rather serious man, no goofing around with Reg, no siree. I find him so attractive in every way, I have to say, it was EXTREMELY difficult for me to stop the naughty thoughts racing through my mind during the butt massage. He is a beautiful genius and if he only knew how well I knew his music, he may have passed on getting a massage from me, as I am indeed, a fan. You don’t want to play Pink Floyd trivia with me. I would marry him in a heart beat. Nuff said.

Bruce Willis:

Again, if you want the full scoop, check out my myspace blog about Bruce. It’s LONG, almost as long as his, um, nuff said. Bruce was on a film promotion tour for the crappy film he did which probably went directly to dvd called “Breakfast of Champions” or some shit like that with Nick Nolte. I massaged him once and he then hired me to massage him on a daily basis for a few weeks. Then he flew me to Italy to massage him there while filming another BOMB called the Story of Us with Michelle Pfieffer.

He is generous and funny, but if he isn’t the center of attention 24/7, he throws a fucking temper tantrum. You gotta love it. He is a natural born entertainer. He acts, sings, dj’s, could do stand up comedy as I have seen it in his hotel room night after night in front of his “friends”. Bruce decided to put our “friendship” on ice until my book finally comes out in the USA as he thinks I may talk about some of the naughty things, but as you can see from my blog, I don’t. My blog is the actual chapter about Bruce, so the fucking cry baby should just calm the fuck down. You don’t want to make me mad. I am the rock and roll Rushdie after all.

Joey Ramone:


My first true love. Oh, I was indeed 15 and he was 29 when we started dating, but he didn’t know that. He thought I was 19, like I told him. The managers all knew in the end and that’s why my name is left out of a few Ramones books, as if eveyrone knew Joey dated a 15 year old, they would *gasp* think of him as a perv. But it was me that was the perv. Still am. So there. Joey and I had a going on for about 3 years and then I decided to follow the Grateful Dead for a couple years and had no time for a relationship. However, Joey and I were friends ALL the way up to his passing. You can read the blog I wrote about the Ramones on MySpace. It’s really long. I will always love Joey, he was so sweet, so funny, so sarcastic, so romantic and above all so STRANGE. He made my dream come true when I was in the 11th grade. He came and played in Ellington, Connecticut (a fucking cow town in the middle of NOWHERE) for my high school. I am sure they lost money for that gig, but he did it for me. Everyone in my school doubted me and gave me shit until Joey and co. finally took to the stage and blew the roof off the Country Squire (which is now called the “Hall of Fame”). Oh what a night.

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Many thanks to Dr. Dot, who is a sweetheart. And fiesty. Just my type. Okay, now everyone’s turn to play, and then go check out her website and make her your MySpace friend.

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Question of the Week: Whatcha Been Up To, Friends?

by Susan Henderson on September 24, 2007

Well? Where have you been? Tell me a story about your summer vacation.

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I’m trying out some new things at LitPark this season. Every Monday, I’ll still run a Question of the Week, and every Friday I’ll do a Weekly Wrap. But Wednesdays have changed. The first Wednesday of the month will be an interview, like before. The following Wednesday will be a new feature called Writers Sing! Lance Reynald takes the Wednesday after that. And the final Wednesday is a Top 5 game, featuring a special guest.

dr. dot visits litpark

That means this week, we’ll play Top 5, and the beautiful Dr. Dot – masseuse to the rock stars – will kick things off. Don’t miss it!

Thank you to Robin Slick for introducing us!

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P.S. My friend, Jessica Keener has a column up at DearReader.com, and she’s also linked to an excerpt of her (not yet published) novel, OTHERS LESS FORTUNATE. Check it out, if you can, and leave a comment if it’s a nice one.

P.P.S. I listen to my football games on the radio, so it’s always an extra treat to see the visual. Watch this Steelers’ kick-off return.

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