Tagged: Mel Brooks

Mindy Newell: Migraines and Mel

This may turn out to be a short one, guys.

A lot of us here at ComicMix have written about the agonies of writer’s block, but I don’t think anyone has ever talked about the torture of trying to write when your head is trying to separate itself from the rest of your body.

That’s ‘cause I have the worst tension migraine right now. I’ve been having them all week, on and off. It’s probably because I’m starting to go nuts from being – mostly – stuck in the house. My vision is okay, but there’s a little man with a pick-ax standing on the right side of the crown of my head, and he’s swinging away and my right ear is ringing in response – I feel like Wile E. Coyote after a run-in with the Roadrunner. I’ve taken my Advil, but the only thing that really helps is standing in the shower and letting the hot water run over me – and I can’t stand in the shower all day.

Anyway, I finished the story for the ComicMix project – see my column from two weeks ago, Patience, Perfection, and Procrastination – and what I called “connecting the towers” worked. It’s now in the hands of artist Andrea Shockling. Check out her work at andreashockling.com, and you’ll understand why I’m thankful to ComicMixer Joe Corallo for telling me about Andrea. She and I spoke on the phone last week, and we discovered that we are kindred spirits; bottom line, I am super excited and happy to be working with her.

Still plugging away at my graphic novel proposal. Did I ever mention that I am the worst, absolutely the worst, proposal writer in the world? I have the hook, I have the concept, I have the story – my big problem is I start writing the outline, and all of a sudden I am deep into it; but when I stop to take a bathroom break or make a “cuppa tea” I come back and realize that it’s already eight or nine pages long. Which means I have to go back, and cut and paste and cut and paste and edit and keep editing, all in order to get to the place where the heart of it resides, while at the same time whittling it down to three or four pages, double-spaced. Oy.

As to what happened yesterday (Saturday, August 12) in Charlottesville, Virginia…

Il Tweetci The Mad can make inane remarks and have the White House staff rush in to “stem the fallout” – as the New York Times reported today – all he wants. He ain’t fooling anybody.

Here’s a conspiracy theory for you from a migrained mind: what happened was encouraged, nay, organized, by the “deconstructionists (read: destroyers) of the world order” and Nazis currently sitting at the right hand of Il Tweetci: Steve Bannon, Steve Minchin, and Sebastian Gorka. (Okay, I’m not sure if Minchin is a “deconstructionist of the world order” or a Nazi, but he, im-not-so-ho, sure is a self-hating Jew.) Not that anyone could prove it.

Today, this morning, I went on YouTube and watched Spike Jones’ Der Fuehrer’s Face” and Springtime for Hitler,” from Mel Brooks’ The Producers.

Then I read an interview that Mr. Brooks did with the late Mike Wallace on CBS’s 60 Minutes in 2001. The subject was Mr. Brooks’ obsession with his ethnicity and with Hitler:

“Hitler was part of this incredible idea that you could put Jews in concentration camps and kill them…How do you get even with the man? How do you get even with him?”

“You have to bring him down with ridicule because if you stand on a soapbox and you match him with rhetoric, you’re just as bad as he is, but if you can make people laugh at him, then you’re one up on him…It’s been one of my lifelong jobs – to make the world laugh at Adolf Hitler.”

And I thought, what if people had just stood and laughed at them?

Would that have worked?

I don’t know.

But what happened is enough to give anyone a permanent migraine.


Martha Thomases: Gifts For People With Brains


I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday, and that your conversations with your friends and family were both peaceful and joyous. In my experience, the tryptophan in the turkey makes everyone so sleepy that noisy arguments require too much energy.

Today, Black Friday, is the official start of the holiday shopping season. With luck you are still enjoying the warm glow of gratitude from yesterday’s holiday, and we can use these emotions to consider your holiday shopping list.

I, for one, am grateful to live in a country that defends freedom of speech. Even hate speech. I don’t like neo-Nazis or what they say (and for even more video, check out this link). However, we know who a bunch of these people are now, and we can defend ourselves https://www.splcenter.org.

stuck-rubber-babyYou know another great thing about Nazis? They make excellent bad guys. A book or movie can have the most conflicted protagonist imaginable, but when he or she is fighting Nazis, you know who is the hero. It’s one of my favorite things about Inglourious Basterds, which remains an excellent gift.

If you like your Nazis even more vile, consider the Nazi vampires in The Strain. There are also some excellent choices if you want your Nazis impotent and hilarious. In fact, while The Producers has the most Hitler of any of Mel Brooks’ movies, you can find at least one cutting reference in everything he does.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. If you have friends or family who are ignorant about what could happen here, let me help you. There are some lovely graphic novels — award winners all — that you can share. Luckily, they are so entertaining that the recipients won’t feel like they’re getting lectured.

The third and final volume of March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin ad Nate Powell, just won the National Book Award. Previous prizewinners include A Catcher in the Rye and Profiles in Courage. The March trilogy tells the story of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s from the perspective of Congressman Lewis. We will need to emulate his courage and grace in these next years.

will-eisner-the-plotpxmI will also and continually recommend Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse. Aside from being a beautiful and engrossing story, it illuminates what I consider to be a most important truth — that we fight best against hate when we fight together as allies.

If you are afraid of other (but related) forms of hate infecting your loved one, you might consider the last book by the legendary Will Eisner, The Plot. His co-author is Umberto Eco, so your recipient will feel flattered that you chose a gift with such a fine literary pedigree.

And for that Baby Boomer relative who thinks he’s still hip (but is, instead, growing more narrow-minded by the day), there is The Fifth Beatle by Vivek Tiwary, Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker. It is so colorful and fun that it can be easy to overlook how masterfully it protests homophobia and anti-Semitism.

Once you start looking for gifts like these, I’m sure you’ll find a lot of other things that will open hearts and minds. Please feel free to share them in the comments. We all need more and more and more.