All posts by Elayne Boosler

NY Times Wordplay

October 29, 2017

Deb Amlen’s super popular NY Times online “Wordplay” column gives a lovely shout out to our Tails of Joy today, as we go along solving the Sunday puzzle together.

“Tricky Clues 13A: “Canine supporters” could be all the wonderful rescue organizations that abound (Like Elayne Boosler’s Tails of Joy), but today we’re talking teeth, so the answer is GUMS.”

David Letterman’s Friends Weigh In on Mark Twain Prize

Washington Post October 20, 2017 David Letterman will be receiving the Mark Twain Prize for Humor, and his friends weigh in.

Elayne Boosler, also part of the Comedy Store scene, appreciated that when Letterman launched “Late Night” in 1982, he chose the best comics to appear — regardless of gender. That wasn’t the case on “The Tonight Show,” she says, which, with the exception of Joan Rivers, rarely featured female comedians. Read more…

NY Times’ “Crosswords With the Stars”

July 12, 2017

What fun! To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the New York Times Crossword puzzle, they’ve tipped their hat to “Dancing With the Stars” by teaming celebrities up with regular crossword contributors to make “Crosswords With the Stars”. Ok, they don’t call it that, but I’ve got on too much makeup, hair extensions, and huge high heels anyway. These puzzles will appear once a month throughout the year. They’ve had Bill Clinton, Jesse Eisenberg, Lisa Loeb, and today, it’s Patrick Merrell and me! Our puzzle is “Modern-Day Remake”. And we got to be the guest bloggers today on the NY Times Wordplay site, talking about how we did “Crosswords With the Stars”. If you’d like more laughter, read the last NY Times Wordplay blog I did on solving that Sunday’s puzzle. Have fun solving! (I love Patrick Merrell’s sketch above of our mousy time together.)

Just in: Yes, they do indeed review crossword puzzles. Read our raves:

Here         and          Here.

From my friend Iliza Shlesinger (and her cute little thumb):

Iliza Shlesinger‏ 

@iliza

Went and grabbed a @nytimes crossword because @ElayneBoosler – one of my favorite women in comedy, is featured in it. This is so fucking cool

 

@iliza #SpoilerAlert thanks @ElayneBoosler for a fun @nytimes crossword!

Two Women Walk Into a Club: Melissa Leo and Ari Graynor

 

 – 

GRAYNOR I was aware of the importance of Elayne Boosler, and she seemed to be a singular woman on this scene and within this community. How much she was everyone’s friend, lover, mother, cousin, teacher. There’s a parallel, in that I’m the lone female comic, but who I play and who she is are two totally different human beings.

Read the entire article here at the NY Times.

Michael Vick, Retiring From Football, Could Have Really Been a Hero

Today, Michael Vick released a letter to the city of Atlanta announcing his retirement from football. It’s a very well written piece about how sorry he was/is to have inflicted so much past hurt – on himself. As happened during his public statements upon his return to football, he never mentions remorse or regret for nor takes any responsibility for eight years of animal torture and murder. He regrets only his own “suffering”. In reading the tens of thousands of reactions on twitter to his piece, you see the enormous opportunity he missed today. Because he is such a good writer, he could have truly, finally, educated those of his fans who don’t have a clue (and don’t know why they should care) about dog fighting and animal abuse; a sick, criminal part of our society that makes the whole of our society more dangerous, violent and abusive toward its weaker members.

TWEET: “Michael Vick would’ve shattered the NFL record book had he not been thrown in jail for being a black man.”

That tweet diminishes every lynching, every true miscarriage of justice against blacks, every unarmed black person shot and killed by police, with its “cry wolf” ignorance.

TWEET: “Why are people still on that with Michael Vick? Y’all act like he did what he did and got away with it. No, he went to jail for 2.5 years”

Actually, he served eighteen months, (two off-seasons), and not one minute of time for his eight years of animal abuse, torture that went beyond imagination. He plea bargained a “not guilty” to that, and pled to bankrolling a gambling conspiracy. I’m an animal rescuer, so I believe in second (and third, fourth, and fifth) chances. But Michael Vick never served time for nor took responsibility for his crimes.

TWEET: “white people kill deers and hang they head up on the ceiling but michael vick cant kill a couple punk ass dogs. eat a dick”

From Michael Vick’s Letter Today: “I was sorry — sorrier than I could ever express — for what I had done. I knew the millions of dollars that I had lost, and the value to my reputation that I had lost, and every day was a reminder of the freedom that I had lost. I knew all of that.”

There’s a lot of that in Vick’s letter, the disappointment of what he had done to himself, the disappointment of not playing football, of possibly not ever getting a contract to play again, against all that he had lost. Leaving out remorse, regret, or apology for what he did to animals, and the fact that they matter and it matters, is what leads to tweets like the one above.

TWEET: “#ShopTalk with #MarcellusandKelvin: Why do you think it is so hard for people to forgive Michael Vick for his past mistakes?”

First of all #ShopTalk, a “mistake” is hitting a dog with your car. Eight years of promoting illegal and sickening dog fighting for profit at Vick’s own Bad Newz kennels, where Vick himself electrocuted, drowned, and smashed losing dogs to the ground over and over in order to kill them isn’t a “mistake”. Neither you, Vick, nor many of his fans call it what it was; torture, murder, mutilation, so let’s start there.  You know, you don’t have to be a dog lover to be appalled. Dogs are intelligent, sentient beings who feel fear, pain, terror. They are smart enough and emotional enough to be invaluable in search and rescue, to lead the blind, save soldiers’ lives, make independence possible for wheelchair users, or deaf, or autistic people. Their existence makes the world kinder and more humane. This wasn’t Richard Pryor shooting a car. In every interview I have read or seen, Vick repeats his contention that “no one ever told him dogfighting was wrong”, that others “should have told” him, etc. He was a grown man making millions and living a life which offered access to everything, but he “didn’t know”?

TWEET: “If I could go back in time and change anything. I’d go back and tell Michael Vick’s cousins to take the charge for him.” 

And you wonder why many people don’t forgive Vick? When you minimize the horror of your crimes by omitting them, you get this tweet, instead of something like, “If I could go back in time I’d make Michael Vick not torture animals”. It’s not bad that it happened, it’s bad that he got caught.

America loves to forgive, we are great at resurrection. We always welcome back the fallen star as long as the star not only pays his/her debt, but, and this is the key, takes responsibility. Muhammed Ali, extolling Islam, was convicted of draft evasion in his boxing prime, given a five year sentence, a $10,000 fine, stripped of his title. Nearly 60,000 Americans were killed and 150,000 wounded in Viet Nam. Whites died alongside blacks. Every family of every one of those soldiers had every reason not to forgive Ali. So why is he one of all of America’s most enduring, beloved heroes? He manned up. He paid his debt. He took responsibility. He never once felt sorry for himself. In fact, the way he glorified himself, with charm, humor, bravado, actually glorified his fans.

Scores of people tweeted this today:

TWEET: “Catch me boolin wit my dawgs just like Michael Vick”

And these:

TWEET: “When I get a dog, Imma train it Michael Vick style”

TWEET: “My bunny bites her cage one more time I’m gonna be the next Michael Vick.”

TWEET: “… Falcons fans were burning Michael Vick jerseys over some dogs?”

All this animal cruelty bravado, because Vick’s fans weren’t made to get it.

TWEET: “Dog fighting aside, we will never have another Michael Vick.”

And dead women aside, we’ll never have another Jack the Ripper.

TWEET: “Michael Vick & his friends did a horrific thing paid his time and spent rest of life apologizing & helping that’s his legacy PRINT THAT.”

I would if it were true. Here’s what is true. For a sad $50,000 “donation”, the Humane Society of the United States immediately cooperated with Michael Vick and his publicist to rehabilitate his image. The $50,000 was a drop in the bucket to the HSUS, but the press Vick was getting allowed the HSUS to maximize the relationship financially, as well as ride his huge publicity coattails. The Humane Society of the United States started collecting money from the public to help and care for the “Vick dogs”, which they actually never had. After that, without ever having had the dogs, they claimed the dogs “could not be rehabilitated” and recommended they be euthanized. While the Humane Society of the United States  kept the money they collected for the dogs, Best Friends Animal Society stepped in. They cleaned up Vick’s mess, along with the public who eventually adopted these incredible, loving dogs. Best friends used the always limited rescue resources of time and money to treat, help, heal, love, and re-home almost 100% of the Vick dogs. Vick made millions after his release thanks to the HSUS, and the HSUS continues to profit off his name.

Meanwhile, while Vick celebrates and profits, true animal rescue organizations continue to struggle under the weight of what Michael Vick wrought. Year after year, we do what we can to clean up the pitbull mess in America: backyard breeders breeding millions of pitbulls for fighting, most ending up in overcrowded shelters, millions being killed, millions more being bailed out at our own expense. Law enforcement saw an uptick in pitbull fighting after all the Vick publicity. He never addressed what he did, and his fans wanted to be like him.

Today was a true missed opportunity. 133 touchdowns and 22,464 yards don’t make you a hero, they make you good at football. Being a man who says to guys who want to be tough, cruelty is not the way, but kindness, love and compassion are, is a hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top (happy) photo of JohnGarcia-Meryl-vicktorydog courtesy of Best Friends  Animal Society

I Am Pro- Choice. I March For Life

Today is the “March for Life”, against all freedoms that give a woman domain over her own body. They are marching for what they call “The Pre-born”. The Christian, self righteous, pro-life marchers are here to make a point; “every life is sacred, every life should be born, every life matters”. We Pro-Choicers agree. Every life is sacred, every life matters. Where we disagree is, we march for the already born, and the women who can care for, love, and want a newborn. Our end game is not simply to provide the church with more bodies. We actually, actually CARE about babies; babies being wanted, babies being born into love and joy, babies who will be supported and raised and taught and cared for, and loved, for their whole lives. We give birth for the long haul. The Catholic Church will take care of you til the day you’re born.

Are the world’s (and America’s) children all so warm and safe and provided for that we must again steal a woman’s rights regarding her personal being, in order to refill our orphanages and make children available for those childless couples who promise to love and protect, not abuse and exploit them? The answer is no. The orphanages remain full as always. These already born children have  no love, mentoring, promise of a bright future. They’re just numbers. They inspire just self satisfied marching.

There are 400,000 children in the US Foster Care system. 100,000 of those are available for adoption right now, and waiting. Hey, why not swing over there on your way home today?

In 2014, more than 22,000 young people aged out of foster care without permanent families. Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to adoptive families have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults (AFCARS). Row row row your boat, “pro-lifers”.

In 2014, 1,546 children died from abuse and neglect, and 71 percent of these children were younger than 3 years old. More than 44 percent of children who die from abuse and neglect every year are under a year old (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). And just wait until the Affordable Care Act is gone. I know the “pro-lifers” will step in and take these orphaned children to doctors when they are sick.

In 2014, about 702,000 children were victims of maltreatment, which includes neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
In 2014, 21 percent of children in the United States were living in poverty (National Center for Children in Poverty).
In 2014, more than half of children entering U.S. foster care were young people of color (AFCARS).
It is estimated 140 Million children world wide are orphans. (But we must march for more! Or women will get too free.)
  
There were 415,129 children in foster care in the United States in 2014 (AFCARS).
Say, why don’t you pick one up on the way home from your “March For Life”? Take two, they’re small.

 

The Pro- Choice world loves children, babies, families so much, that we want every innocent soul born onto this earth to be adored.  And you “Pro – Birthers”  are terrible, terrible caregivers. The statistics shown above are created by you. Your “righteousness” in destroying women’s lives stops short of helping, adopting, loving, the very beings you insist upon forcing into existence. You have no business on earth  in the most private, quietest sector of a woman’s body, and heart, at her most personal, vulnerable time.  But we don’t live with our heads in the sand. We don’t call it a victory when a baby is born just to be thrown into a trash can at a prom. It’s not success when a baby is dumped in a system that will ignore, suffer, destroy it, then set it free eighteen years later without a road map of the human heart, spirit, or even the subway system. Had you gotten your way, would you marchers now be housing the almost one million people born (instead of not being born) unwanted last year if abortion had been illegal? I hope so, because you will be the people legally responsible for these births when they happen, legal guardians of the law’s benevolence; a million unwanted people with no means of emotional, physical, or financial support, suddenly descending on America, every year. All coming to your homes as you are their reason for being. You made their lives possible. In every spiritual religion, you are now responsible for them. And you have done a horrific job so far.
If we lose our right to choose, I propose every woman forced to give birth against her will name Trump, Pence, and every congressperson (and supreme court judge, and governor, and mayor) who got rid of Roe v Wade, as the father. They are the actual parents of your child, they are the reason you have a child.  A class action suit for support by millions of women would be the only fair means of support for the children now forced upon you.
Hypocrisy
The same people who are anti-choice are against sex education in the schools. Why not just sell cars without brakes?
See? It’s all about them not wanting you to have sex for pleasure. And if they taught you birth control, then you could have sex for pleasure. So no, we need the baby as punishment. The opposite of a beautiful life, dontcha think?
If they really cared about a “baby”, they’d embrace the Morning After Pill (Plan B), because right after sex, with no idea of fertilization or not, you can take this pill if your condom breaks. We are talking ten minutes after sex. But they are against that, as they believe it’s “killing a life”. So you can see, it’s not at all about actual babies, or where life begins, or wanting to help orphans. It is only, only, about keeping women prisoner. And the fact that you might have enjoyed sex.
Bush: “Sex education causes promiscuity. If you have the knowledge you’ll use it”. Not really. I took algebra. I never do math.
Bush: “Birth shouldn’t be taught, it’s a miracle.” So’s popcorn if you can’t figure out how it happened.
Every baby born should be wanted and loved, and able to be cared for. That is why I am pro-choice. That is why I support Planned Parenthood. Hey “Marchers For Life”, maybe next year you can do something meaningful and actually go visit those full orphanages you ignore all year. Maybe bring some candy, read a child a book…
 
 
 
  
 
 

Worldwide Women March, the Beginning

Here’s a message I just received on facebook. Name not important. I don’t know why she sent this to me, I don’t know her. And she clearly, clearly does not know me.

To Me: 

I am not a “disgrace to women” because I don’t support the women’s march. I do not feel I am a “second class citizen” because I am a woman. I do not feel my voice is “not heard” because I am a woman. I do not feel I am not provided opportunities in this life or in America because I am a woman. I do not feel that I “don’t have control of my body or choices” because I am a woman. I do not feel like I am ” not respected or undermined” because I am a woman. I AM a woman. I can make my own choices. I can speak and be heard. I can VOTE. I can work if I want. I control my body. I can defend myself. I can defend my family. There is nothing stopping me to do anything in this world but MYSELF. I do not blame my circumstances or problems on anything other than my own choices or even that sometimes in life, we don’t always get what we want. I take responsibility for myself. I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a friend. I am not held back in life but only by the walls I choose to not go over which is a personal choice. Quit blaming. Take responsibility. If you want to speak, do so. But do not expect for me, a woman, to take you seriously wearing a pink va-jay-jay hat on your head and screaming profanities and bashing men. If you have beliefs, and speak to me in a kind matter, I will listen. But do not expect for me to change my beliefs to suit yours. Respect goes both ways. If you want to impress me, especially in regards to women, then speak on the real injustices and tragedies that affect women in foreign countries that do not that the opportunity or means to have their voices heard. Saudi Arabia, women can’t drive, no rights and must always be covered. China and India, infantcide of baby girls. Afghanistan, unequal education rights. Democratic Republic of Congo, where rapes are brutal and women are left to die, or HIV infected and left to care for children alone. Mali, where women can not escape the torture of genital mutilation. Pakistan, in tribal areas where women are gang raped to pay for men’s crime. Guatemala, the impoverished female underclass of Guatemala faces domestic violence, rape and the second-highest rate of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa. An epidemic of gruesome unsolved murders has left hundreds of women dead, some of their bodies left with hate messages. And that’s just a few examples. So when women get together in AMERICA and whine they don’t have equal rights and march in their clean clothes, after eating a hearty breakfast, and it’s like a vacation away that they have paid for to get there… This WOMAN does not support it.”

My Answer:

Wow, I never use this term because I rarely encounter it, but finally, a dictionary definition of “White Privilege”. Here, it’s actually “Rich White Privilege”. How wonderful you are so secure standing in your own Bruno Maglis that you cannot even see past to women who aren’t you. My friends and I indeed remember the coat hanger desperate abortions of the ’60’s and ’70’s, the horrible conditions for poor women seeking medical help without much money even after Roe V Wade became law. We remember there were no such things as “rape kits”, and the first questions asked by police if you were brave enough to try to report rape was, “What were you wearing? What were you doing there? Are you sure this wasn’t just a fight with your boyfriend?” If you got as far as a courtroom and on the stand, the other side could reduce you to a sexually promiscuous whore who was asking for it. These things changed because women fought and marched.

Even though Roe v Wade is still the law of the land, over 30 states now make abortion impossible, so again you need to be rich to travel, wait out the waiting periods (though not for a gun), and hope your husband (or your stepfather who impregnated you, or your mother’s boyfriend who impregnated you) doesn’t try to stop you. In many states, you will need their written permission to terminate. Good luck getting that, as it would then implicate them in your molestation. Some states have “paternal rights” laws, meaning your rapist has visitation rights to your child for eighteen years, if you carry the rapists’ child to term and keep it. By the way, public taxpayer money has never been used for abortions, and so-called “Christian” companies like Hobby Lobby can refuse to pay for birth control in their employees’ health care plans. Yet all cover the cost of Viagra. Planned Parenthood is the primary care center for millions of women in America. They use no taxpayer money for abortions. Nevertheless, your new vice president, Mike Pence, cut their funding in 2011, causing the worst HIV outbreak in Indiana state history.  It also caused breast cancer rates to skyrocket as women lost their affordable access to cancer screening. His number one goal in office now is to completely shut them down, as he has tried with six previous bills.

You’ve clearly never tried to make your way up the ladder of what was thought to be only a “man’s profession”. Even now, our female athletes, even when better than our men’s soccer team, are woefully behind in salary and winning purses. Women, not for lack of trying, hard work and competency, are in very few boardrooms of major companies. Women in the US still make less than men for the same work, a travesty when you consider how many women are the breadwinners for their families. White women make 80 cents to the dollar earned by white males.  African-American women are paid 60 cents for every dollar white men earn, while Hispanic women make only 55 cents. Title IX, signed into law in 1972 to give female students access to sports and equal opportunity in schools, barely survived the GOP grand effort to repeal it under President Obama. Without it, there would have been no Olympic Gold in 2016 for Women’s Gymnastics; no Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman. It survived because women rallied and actively held our representatives to task.

So we march. We march because the republicans now rule the house, senate and executive branch. We march to let them know we are here, we are watching, we are not going backwards and we are active. We will drown you in phone calls, emails, articles, petitions and most importantly, WE WILL VOTE YOU OUT. You work for us. You do not rule us. You will not set us back to when we had to “let boys win”. You have won your last, we are here now and we are watching you. We are committed and we are angry. A sexual predator, who bragged about it, is the president of the United States, not Saudi Arabia and not Guatemala. He, and his supporters, are creating a very dangerous climate for women. This comes at a time when our rights to control our own bodies are one vote away from being overturned. When health insurance for women and families is being overturned and will leave us out in the cold. We have a vice president who actually coined the term “forcible rape”. “Forcible” rape. As opposed to.. the 1950’s courtroom version? While you whined about a fake war on Christmas we suffered under an actual War on Women. And we know what’s coming, from the tiny- minded, petty, self-serving, ignorant, narcissistic, archaic, hubristic, hateful, homophobic, mysogynistic boys club up on lobbyists hill. We know and we are ready. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Now let me ask you a question, dear letter writer: (and when you say you “can vote”, you know it’s because women marched, were beaten, arrested, taunted, jailed, for DECADES, to get you that right, right?) You mention your concern for women brutalized, and more deserving of a march, in countries like Mali, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Africa. In how many of those countries in which you voiced extreme concern for women have you marched, advocated, helped, supported, or done anything for women or people in need? The new republican playbook is “false equivalency”, trying to throw the spotlight off the real issues affecting us by pointing out something shiny!!! elsewhere!!! Look!!! They treat women badly ten thousand miles away, so why are you protesting in America??!! That game doesn’t work here. It’s a specious argument at best and an ignorant one at worst. “Hey, people in South Africa don’t have clean water, so why are you protesting about Flint, huh?? Huh??” The Huckabee talking points are wearing thin, thin enough to be totally transparent.

Women yesterday weren’t “blaming” or “whining”. We were marching. Marching IS taking responsibility. We are responsible for our freedoms and our rights, and we are going to make sure we keep them. I am happy you have a wonderful life. I am happy my generation’s marching and fighting gave you the right to be anything you wanted, even oblivious if that’s your choice. If everyone else who had a wonderful life didn’t care about anybody else’s life, we’d never have gotten the vote. Continued carefree success to you.

 

 

When I Shoved My Pinkie Up Florence Henderson’s Nose

Everyone is writing the most glowing, loving and funny tributes to the now late, dear Florence Henderson. It’s what she inspired; love, fun, joy, and admiration. Florence was truly a “gamer”, a “good sport”, and she proved that a woman could be sexy and alluring at eighty two years old. Here is my most fun memory of us together:

In the nineteen seventies, one day Florence Henderson and I were two of several guests on the “Mike Douglas Show”. She was a gorgeous, petite woman, and was so encouraging to a new comic; me. At the end of the show, they had us all come out, sit on bar stools, and sing a closing number together. Being a silly comic, I spread my arms wide for the last note. With that, my pinkie went up Florence’s nose, and I knocked her backward off the bar stool. Needless to say, the mortification was unbearable to me. I thought I was done for. The show ended, Florence got up laughing hysterically. Not only wasn’t she upset, she spent the next half hour reassuring ME. And then we went our separate ways, after I apologized for sixteen hours.

Several years later, I was to entertain at an industry event, and I knew Florence was going to be there. I hadn’t seen her in a few years, and I kept hoping against hope that she wouldn’t remember what had happened. Suddenly, there she was. Florence Henderson: beautiful, dressed to kill, perfect, stunning, gorgeous, regal, surrounded by beautiful people. She saw me, she came toward me, and in front of all her admirers, stuck her own pinkie up her nose and, laughing heartily, said to me, “Remember? Remember? Hahahahahah!!” While everyone around her stood there gaping, we laughed until we cried. And that became our greeting every time we saw each other for the rest of her life.

May this wonderful human being, who spent her life making the lives of others better, who understood the insecurity and the humanity in all of us and who strove to honor it, who always saw the positive, now rest in peace.