Thursday, March 31, 2011

Growing up "Italian"

NOTE: Thursday "topics" are really just reruns of pieces that have already been published - the majority in the Connecticut Post when I was writing their "Get Out" column. This is one of them. It ran like five years ago, so don't try going to the places named without calling first to make sure they're still open!

“Mike Wood” is not exactly a name that screams Italian (even with all the vowels) but if you could have seen my great-grandmother, there’d be no doubt as to my heritage. We called her “Little Grandma,” as she stood no more than four feet tall. We’d visit her every year out in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and never once did I see her in anything but her black mourning dress, which she started wearing after her son Dominic was killed in World War II.

We loved visiting her - even if we couldn’t understand a word she said through her thick accent– because she managed to convey her joy, and earn our love, through her animated gestures and twinkling eyes. Our other “older” relatives had to ply us with presents and candy to get our attention/affection, but all Little Grandma had to do was clap her brittle, but soft, hands and we’d go running to her side, where she’d sing and tell us stories. And as old (and short) as she was, she would stand for hours over the stove stirring the Sunday sauce (oops, I mean gravy) and making pastas with names I still can’t pronounce.

Away from Scranton, things were decidedly less Italian. True, my mom did play her Mario Lanza records, and there was a lavabo in our living room (but thankfully no plastic covers on the couch) but her pasta always came out of a box, and sometimes the sauce was from a jar…and at home we always called it sauce. Even my “straight off the boat” grandfather seemed a little less Italian. Back in Scranton, he was Lorenzo Falduto from Calabria…here he was Grandpa Jimmy from Bridgeport.  I was in my twenties before I learned that my Uncle Jake’s real name was Ovideo and that Uncle Carm was short for Carmen. It’s not that we weren’t proud of our Italian heritage, it’s just that we were also made up of equal parts Irish and English. Or, more simply put, we were Americans, and our home reflected our varied backgrounds.

But my Italian relatives would have felt right at home at il Angolo (The Corner), the latest addition to Bridgeport’s Little Italy section. From the white stuccoed arches to the gold felted chairs, to the generous portions of pasta, an evening at il Angolo is like a trip back in time to Little Grandma’s house.

My wife and I went for dinner last Saturday night and found the dining room full and lively with conversation.  The staff, from the owner on down, was very friendly and eager to please, and never once appeared rushed or “too busy” to chat or discuss the specials, even with a full house.  We opted for the specials, but the menu had many tempting choices, with a wide variety of veal, chicken, beef, seafood, and of course, pasta.  I rarely order pasta in Italian restaurants because I can never pronounce them properly – to me, cavitelli looks like it should rhyme with “belly.” And while I have learned to ignore the “g’s” in gnocchi and lasagna, I will never get the hang of adding them to manicotti or ricotta- and we won’t even talk about my pasta fagiola incident.

But when it comes to dessert, my inhibitions go out the window – I don’t know (or care) how it’s pronounced, I’m ordering the tartufo; basically a giant chocolate covered cherry, only filled with ice cream and served surrounded by whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Our original plan, which was a good one, was to stop by nearby Micalizzi’s afterward for an Italian ice…until we saw tartufo on the menu.

Also on the menu was an unexpectedly lengthy line-up of top name entertainment that il Angolo has to offer. Tonight, for example, comedian Pat Cooper will harangue the audience with his trademark “comedic anger” honed over his forty years of performing with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Tom Jones. Pat recently starred in the Analyze This…and That movies with Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro and is a popular guest on many talk shows, including David Letterman and Howard Stern. His “I’m not yelling, I’m Italian” shtick should play to this crowd.

Other upcoming shows of note are the world famous doo-wop group, the Del Vikings who will bring their many hits, including Come Go with Me and Whispering Bells, to the restaurant on June 23 and The Bernadettes on the 30th. The Del Viking were a little before my time, but I have seen the Bernadettes perform, and I think il Angolo should be a great setting for lead singer Elden Lowery’s crowd engaging antics.  Show times and admissions vary, so contact the restaurant for information.

il Angolo is located in what used to be Testo’s, a very popular restaurant for many years, so they have some big shoes to fill, but if our experience was any indication, they are well on their way to meeting the challenge.  As for my Little Grandma, she’s gone, and no one will ever replace her.  Her shoes were not so big, but they left some really large footprints.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Even Memory Needs a Helping Hand

Looking for any edge I could find in filling out my brackets, I started reading this story about a Kansas University basketball player who lost both his mom and grandparents in the same month. It detailed how he was at school, hundreds of miles from home, when he got the news, and that his teammates just gathered around him for a big group hug .  A sad story no doubt, but I was more disturbed by the memory it brought back.

Actually, what really disturbed me was the fact that I had forgotten the recalled incident in the first place.  It was over twenty years ago - I was completing Basic Training in Ft. Benning, GA (a long story for another day) when one of the guys in my platoon got a message that his mom had died. We were mostly 18-20 at the time, from all walks of life, a bunch of boys trying to prove ourselves men, but seeing poor Private Tate trying to control his emotions got all of our emotions flowing, and we just quietly circled around him in a show of sympathy and support.

You would think that one would never forget a moment like that. But I totally did. It’s not like I blocked it out or suppressed it, I just completely forgot it.  Well, not forgot exactly, as the newspaper article brought it right back, but you get the point.

Anyway, this got me thinking about another situation – one that I clearly remember, yet many of my friends don’t. It’s regarding where we were when the space shuttle, Challenger, exploded – but- before I get into that, I need to bring up one more thing.

September 11, 2001

You see that date and instantly remember that day, right? Where you were. Who you  were with. What you were doing when you first heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center. You remember it like it was only yesterday, right? Truth is, most of us don’t. Turns out, our memories of even major events like 9/11 are unreliable, sketchy, or just plain wrong.

I see you shaking your head, disagreeing with me. I know, because I didn’t believe it either. Until it was proven to me in an unquestionable manner: I was still at Southern back in 2001, finishing my Masters in Psychology, and two days after 9/11, a professor came into our class and asked us to write down everything we remembered about that horrible day.  The majority of the class voluntarily wrote out their stories, many in vivid detail, almost grateful for the chance to record their recollections. He then collected them, made a big show of sealing them in a large orange envelope and said goodbye.  We didn’t see him for another four months, when he came back for the last class of the semester.

“Remember me?” he asked, his eyes twinkling as we all nodded. “Last time we met,” he continued, “I asked you to write down exactly what you remember from September 11th. The who, what, why, when, and where. And tonight, I’d like you to do the same thing. Just write down exactly what you remember from that day. Who you were with. Where you were. What you were doing when you first heard about the attacks.”

Confused, but curious, we did as asked. And then were shocked when given the opportunity to compare them to the originals he triumphantly removed from the envelope. The majority of us were way off. Someone who had written that they first heard about it on their car radio, later recalled learning about it while at a Dunkin’ Donuts.  Another originally wrote that he was alone his dorm room, but four months later, he was suddenly in the Student Center. And it wasn’t just minor details. The people, places, and things described in such vivid detail in the originals were in many cases completely different from the people, places, and things (also vividly described) in the new versions. And that was after only four months!

It really freaked me out, seeing my own writing describing an event so different than the one I “remembered” – which is why I missed much of his follow-up discussion on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, the validity of repressed memories, and so on. But the main idea stuck with me: we literally make our own memories.

This was so mind-blowing to me, I had to test it out for myself. I decided to base my informal study on the event that preceded 9/11 as the “Where were you when…?" moment for my generation: the Challenger explosion.

I knew where I was: it was a snow day, so there was no school, and my friends and I were exploring the woods when several of us fell through some thin ice and had to be “rescued” by a neighborhood mom. She served us cocoa as we dried off, and switched on the news to show us what happened to the space shuttle. 

All this I knew for a fact (confirmed by both the National Weather Service and Shelton School System) but I started asking around, seeing what my friends remembered from that day. I even widened my search and asked other schoolmates, people who weren’t with us that day, but I knew were not in school.

It was incredible how many of them swore they were either in school, watching it with their class as it happened, or home sick on the couch watching it on TV. Those who remember being in school described their teachers crying, kids screaming, parents coming to pick them up early. The "sick" ones recalled parents calling from work to check on them, or in some cases actually coming home. Only one out of about 25 I talked to mentioned a snow day. For the rest, there was not a doubt in their minds that what they remembered wasn’t true.  Then I pulled the rug out from under them.

But even with my proof (a photocopy of the weather report for that day and a newspaper article mentioning the school closings) they STILL didn’t believe me. It was crazy. And sort of scary. It makes you wonder how many of our cherished childhood memories are wrong.  Did they really happen? And if not, what did happen?

I guess in the end, it really doesn’t matter.  Perception is reality, right? But then again, if our recollection of our perception is wrong, then how can we ever know what reality is? Whoa, this is starting to get trippy – I think I have a better chance at picking the Final Four than figuring this out, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Or what you think your thoughts are!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Failure to Communicate: How I Pissed off Paul Newman

I love Paul Newman – a man, who by all accounts (some first hand) was as kind and generous as he was talented and handsome.  Everything about him, from his penetrating blue eyes to his iconic movie roles to his wicked sense of humor, was the stuff of legend.  And he was quite the local hero as well: whether it was racing cars at Lime Rock, selling spaghetti sauce at Stew Leonard’s, or fund-raising for the Westport County Playhouse, he always drew a crowd. But unless it was to raise awareness for one of his many causes, he never seemed to actively seek the attention - people just wanted to be around him. And when they approached him, he was always appreciative of their compliments and considerate with his time. 

I’m sure he had his faults, we just didn’t know about them.  But even if the tabloids did have something bad to report, I doubt they would. And even if they did, no one would buy them, for he was that loved.  In fact, next to Mother Theresa and Elmo, I can’t think of another modern day person more adored and revered.


It happened over 15 years ago, but I’m still ashamed.  And mortified.  I’ve met many celebrities in my life. I’ve shaken hands with Michael Keaton. Passed Dave Mathews a Diet Coke. Convinced an idiot guard to let Mike Myers and his friends into the SNL studios. I shared an elevator with Penny Marshall and Tom Hanks (and cringed when my friend turned to her and said, “Voh-dee-oh-doh, Laverne!”) But no one could compare to Paul Newman. And I went and pissed him off.

Here’s what happened: A few weeks before my run-in, I saw him on an episode of “Inside the Actors’ Studio” where he was promoting his latest movie, Nobody’s Fool (based on a great book, by one of my all-time favorite authors, Richard Russo.) They were discussing a memorable scene about a stolen snow blower, and James Lipton made a comment about how funny and improvised it seemed. Paul Newman agreed, but gave all the credit to the movie’s director, Robert Benton. Problem is, that scene was lifted verbatim from the book  - as was most of the movie, which retained a huge portion of the book’s dialogue and story.

Now, as an aspiring author myself, it bothered me that the real author, Richard Russo (a Pulitzer Prize winner), wasn’t being given credit for his work. Plus, even though we’ve never met, Mr. Russo was the “Author in Residence” at my college, so I felt personally affronted for him, and vowed that if I ever saw Paul Newman, I would confront him about it.

Of course, I never thought I’d have such an opportunity (but we all know what happened to thought*) and then one day it presented itself.

At the time, my sister-in-law had a beauty shop in Southport, and for whatever reason (I think her landlord was Paul Newman’s former limo driver or something like that) Mr. Newman started coming in to her shop for his haircuts. Afterwards, he would go across the street to The Horseshoe Bar for lunch. So one day I was there dropping off my brother, or maybe picking him up, and was told I had just missed Paul Newman.  The girl who had actually cut his hair saw my disappointment and said I could probably still catch him at the Horseshoe, so I ran right over. And there he was, casually sitting at the bar, enjoying a cheeseburger.

Now, by that time I had gotten over my “anger” with his failure to acknowledge Richard Russo’s contribution to his movie, but thought it might make for a funny ice breaker. You see, as much as I enjoy meeting famous people, I have never stopped one on the street or asked for an autograph  - but if a natural opportunity arises, I try to take it. And here was my opportunity to meet my all-time favorite, could be a saint, star of stage and screen, Paul Newman.

So I walked right up to him and said…

“Mr. Newman, I have a bone to pick with you!”

“Excuse me,” he said, slowly putting down his beer and turning to stare at me with those blue eyes. ”Do I know you?”

“No, but I saw you on the Actors’ Studio last month, and you owe Richard Russo an apology! You went on and on about Robbie Benson (in my nervousness, I accidentally substituted the name of the 80’s pretty boy for the 80-year old director) and never once mentioned Richard Russo…”

“Did Russo put you up to this,” he asked, pronouncing Russo with a “soft u” instead of the oo sound I used.

“What? No. I never met him. I just thought…”

“Hold on,” he said, holding up his hands. “You don’t know me. You never met him. Yet you felt compelled to interrupt my conversation with Gordon here (he nods toward the man behind the bar) to demand an apology?”


“Do you make it a habit of defending the honor of strangers,” he asked, winking at Gordon. “Or am I your first?”

“No Sir, I just…uh…”

“Well then buzz off!” he said, raising his voice loud enough to get Gordon laughing.

Then he turned his back on me.

Had it just ended with “buzz off” it might have been a funny story. But seeing him turn his back practically broke my heart. I felt like such a jerk. There were so many other ways I could have played this scene out. I could have complimented him on his haircut.  Dared him to eat 50 eggs.  Or simple taken one of the empty stools on either side of him and just quietly shared a beer with one of my heroes. Instead, I insulted him.

Looking back on what I just wrote, and the fifteen years of guilt that followed, it occurs to me that I really shouldn’t have been so hard on myself. I realize now that I’m not to blame - it’s that damned Richard Russo’s fault! And if I ever get the chance to meet him, I’m going to demand an apology!

Little something for the ladies!

* "Thought thought he had to fart, but he shit his pants instead." - the wisdom of my mother, Kathleen Wood

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

To Everything...Turn, Turn, Turn

Last week I abandoned my usual snarkiness to write seriously about what, at the time, seemed like a tragic flood in my town – lots of property damage, washed out roads, and just a general overall mess. And while I’m sure its impact is still a major concern for those directly affected, I can’t help but compare it to what happened in Japan, and think, what was the big deal? Sure, some photo albums were destroyed, new sump pumps had to be bought, and maybe some mold mitigation is going to be required – but - our town is still here!  No one died, or was even injured, to the best of my knowledge.  And even though the Housatonic River might not be the cleanest water around, its pollutants are nothing compared to the threat of a nuclear meltdown.
 I’m not making light of the situation in Shelton, or New Jersey, or anywhere else on the planet for that matter, but at this moment, nothing is as bad as what’s happening in Japan right now.  Be it Libyan’s fighting for their freedom, Wisconsin employees worrying about their jobs, or even football players arguing about their contracts, they all have it better off than the citizens of Japan.
Perspective is a wonderful, yet terrible thing, as it provides many people with a reprieve from their troubles by showing them how much worse others have it. Perspective makes our problems seem petty, and therefore, not as overwhelming or upsetting, which allows us to then deal with them better.  Sure, I still have to worry about how I’m going to pay for another $450 delivery of oil, but at least I still have a home to heat.
The problem with perspective is how quick we are to forget. After Hurricane Katrina, I clearly  remember how disturbingly easy if was to go about our normal lives, shopping in fully stocked stores, putting things away in fully-functional refrigerators, all while people less than a 6 hour flight away were fighting and begging for the most basic of human needs. Televised images of looting and parents pleading for medicine for their babies did make the rest of us stop and think, for a moment, but then we went right back to  arguing with the woman going through the “8 Items or Less…” line with 15 items.
In a way, I suppose it’s a good thing that the human spirit is so strong that we can continue to fight over such mundane things while others are fighting for their very lives – but if the tables were turned, you have to wonder: When does self-preservation end and self-respect begin? 

I've seen the movie Titanic probably 20 times, and paid to see it three of those times. But while I appreciated the epic spectacle, the timeless romance, and Kate Winslet's boobies, what struck me most about the movie was how it forced me to question what I would do if I were ever in such a situation. Would I bravely step aside when they called "Woman and children first" or would I be donning a wig and jumping in the lifeboat?

I'd like to think I'd do the right thing (whatever that may be) but when I think about how many times I've driven by broken down cars on the side of the road, or looked the other way as elderly people struggled with their groceries, without offering assistance, it doesn't bode well for my courage. I mean, if I can't be bothered to help a stranger change a flat tire, what are the odds that I'd be willing to risk my life for one? 
I can only hope that I never have to find out. In the mean time, I'll donate my $20 to some Tsunami Relief Fund,  keep myself listed as a marrow donor, wear my pink ribbon, sponsor walk-a-thoners,  buy poppies from veterans, send checks to St. Jude's, and try to keep things in perspective.  I do these things because it's the right thing to do - but in all honestly, I do them because it's the easier thing to do. Handing a homeless guy ten bucks helps me sleep better at night, but at the end of the day, he's still sleeping outside...while I have a spare room. 

I don't know if that makes me part of the solution, or part of the problem. Or both. But if there ever is some sort of Judgement Day, I hope they let me plead the 5th, because I know I could have done better.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Few Too Many Drops to Drink

Note: I did not take the following pictures, but I did "take" them from the Valley Independent Sentinel, a local new source that provided great coverage of yesterday's flooding. Check them out!

House in The Maples section of Shelton

When we bought our first house in 2003, aside from the initial excitement and fear of being a new homeowner, the thing that stuck with me most was something the inspector said. He had invited me to follow him as he checked everything from the basement furnace to the attic insulation, pointing out the hundreds of things that needed to be fixed or addressed in the near future. I mentioned how strange it seemed that so many of the issues were water related – whether it was the condition of the roof, the grading of the yard, the tile in the bathroom, or the age if the pipes, it seemed that roughly 75% of the problems involved keeping water in, or out, of the house - which I suppose makes sense considering 7/10ths of the earth’s surface is covered in water and the human body is basically ¾’s water. 

But at the time, I was so overwhelmed with all the problems and issues he was pointing out, all I could do was make a lame joke, something like, “Wow, if water is that much of a problem, I can’t imagine what it would be like to buy a houseboat!” He just looked at me and said, “It’ll be a constant battle, but just so you know, Water Always Wins.”

At the time, it didn’t seem all that profound. But he said it in such a way that was so matter-of-fact and undeniable, I tucked it away in my memory bank, knowing that once the mortgage was approved, papers were signed, and boxes unpacked, it would be something to ponder. And in the years that followed, images of the Grand Canyon being carved by the Colorado River, the Titanic being sunk by an iceberg, or the failure of the New Orleans’ levees all served as constant reminders to how right he was. Water Always Wins.

It’s a bit unsettling – that something so simple and basic can be so destructive. I’m intentionally ignoring the power of the atom, as we can see water, which somehow makes it more real. Plus, it doesn’t take a madman and a red button to unleash its awesome power.

Many of us spent this past winter dealing with what seemed like unprecedented amounts of snow. Missed days of work. Sore backs. Heart attacks. And countless car accidents – all from fluffy drops of frozen water. Then yesterday, at least in my area, a couple inches of rain, coupled with all that snowfall, led to some very serious flooding.  Houses destroyed. Photos and memories washed away. Roads made unpassable. All from water.

another house along the Housatonic River

But at the same time, we need water. My students are always shocked to hear that one can go weeks without food, but only days without water. We tend to take it for granted. From the ice cubes that cool our sodas to the steam that cleans our clothes, it’s everywhere. We appreciate it when it’s where it’s supposed to be, be it a pool or sink or glass – yet get upset when it shows up in places like our basement. We use it to clean, yet it also makes a mess.
The Stevenson Dam, with floodgates open...and a rainbow

The Housy, and the Red, White, and Blue
I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned in all of this, but since there was wine in my glass all night, rather than water, the moral escapes me. But there’s no escaping water. Water Always Wins.

That's not to say we should give up the fight - for even though it seems silly to think we can defeat evil things like cancer and terrorism when we can't even beat water, if you look closely at these last two pictures, you'll see that the human spirit still somehow manages to rise above the flood. We may not be able to beat water,  but we can still float.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More Miserables!

NOTE: It's not often that I crack myself up (or others, for that matter) but for some reason, the idea of a comic sequel to Les Miserables just struck me as funny. I started this about 5 years ago, spent 20 inspired minutes writing it, then never continued. If you haven't read the book, or at least seen the play, don't bother reading any further, as I didn't even attempt to make it stand alone.

"At last, Cosette, you're Marius has returned. 
Sorry I'm late,I hope dinner hasn't burned"

            "Enough with the singing already!" complains Cosette.  "Why can't we ever just talk, like normal people? 
            "And what do these normal people talk about?" Marius inquires.
            "Oh, I don't know," says Cosette, placing her finger on her chin in an overtly dramatic pose of concerned thought.  "People talk about taxes, the news, weather...or where you've been all night!" she exclaims. "It's well past seven!"
            "Oh, you know," explains Marius, "I met some friends down at Thernardier's and we had a few brandies..."
            "Don't give me that!" says Cosette, harshly throwing a basket of bread down on the table.  "We both know all your friends were killed in the Revolution...remember?  All that 'empty chairs at empty tables' business you whined about for months?  Ring a bell?"
            "I should ring a bell for each of their souls, the way you disparage them!  How can you accuse me of forgetting?  I think about them every day. Poor Enjolras. Little Gavroche. Sometimes I wish I were among them."
            "So do I!" says Cosette, before realizing the gravity of her statement.
            "What was that, Dear?" asks Marius. "Do you wish me dead?  Do you long to see me carted off on the funeral wagon?  Do you like to imagine what a gloriously beautiful widow you would make?  Would you like me..."
            "I would just like you home once and a while!" she blurts out, breaking into tears. "I don't really want you dead.  It's just that...just that...sometimes, it's like...the Marius I knew and loved is dead..." she breaks off, wiping away tears with the back of her hand.
            "And as for me?" asks Marius.  "The man who stands before you now, your husband?  Are you saying you do not love me?"
            "It's like I don't even know you.  You never tell me where you’re going, or where you've been..."
            "Well excusez moi if I can't live up to the saintly virtues of Jean Valjean!"
            "Who said anything about..." interrupts Cosette.
            "You don't have to say it. He is always here!  Watching me like the gargoyles of Notre Dame.  Pulling on me like the tides of Mont St. Michel.  Choking me like a stale eclair..."
            "Enough!" yells Cosette.  "I will not hear anymore of this.  He saved my life.  He saved your life!  And this is the thanks he gets?  He told me that our wedding day was the happiest day of his life..."
            "Big deal!" interrupts Marius.  "The guy spent twenty years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread!  He spent another twenty running from the law!  He lived his life in fear.  He was alone.  He had no friends.  Nothing.  His life was one trial after another.  And our wedding day was the happiest day of his life!  Of course it was!  It was probably the only day he wasn't beaten or robbed or cheated or chased or swindled or ridi..."
            "I said enough!"  Cosette roars, her face twisted with rage.  "One more word about..."
            A knock at the door interrupts her.  "Come.  Who is it?" calls Marius, looking rather relieved at the interruption.
            "Police!" responds a voice in a terribly obvious, yet failing, attempt to sound commanding.  A poodles bark had more bite.
            "Well come now, what is it?" asks Marius as he opens the door.  "My wife and I were having a simple discussion, that hardly constitutes as a row, don't you have anything better to do with your time than to..."
            "Excuse me sir, " says the policeman, "I am Officer Javert. I need to speak to your wife about her possible involvment in the murder of my father."
             "Murder?" Cosette challenged. "Your father committed suicide. Everyone knows that!"
             "Well we have new evidence that seems to suggest other wise," the officer retorted, drawing himself up to his full height.  "And a witness who is willing to testify that YOU were at the scene!"

Dun, dun, dun...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

If I Ruled the World

If I ruled the world:
Grocery stores would stock rice cakes with the rice and bread crumbs with the bread

If I ruled the world:
All gas tanks would be on the driver's side and all pump nozzles would have the 'hands free' feature

If I ruled the world:
Easter would be the same day every year and St. Patrick's Day would always be on a Saturday

If I ruled the world:
Fries would ALWAYS come with that

If I ruled the world:
Petting zoos would have real animals instead of lame-ass livestock

If I ruled the world:
You could buy beer after the 7th inning (and for less that $8)

If I ruled the world:
We would still be playing Jarts at picnics

If I ruled the world:
Kids would listen to their parents, and parents would listen to their kids

If I ruled the world:
Paying $10 for a movie ticket would guarantee a happy ending (and yes, I mean that kind of happy ending)

If I ruled the world:
English muffins would split evenly into two equal halves rather than one good side and one little deformed side

If I ruled the world:
Slot machines would still have handles that required pulling

If I ruled the world:
Stick butter would always be soft, spreadable, and fat free

If I ruled the world:
Pluto would still be a planet

If I ruled the world:
There would be no income tax - but - there would be a hefty outcome tax

If I ruled the world:
There would be no such thing as unseasonable weather. Spring would be warm, Summer hot, Fall cool, and Winter cold (oh yeah, and the names of seasons would be capitalized!)

If I ruled the world:
People who enjoy my blog would realize that my book is just as entertaining and go out and buy it

That's what I would do - now how about you? 

PS - I know I'll never actually rule the world, but  I DO rule this blog,  so I have removed the annoying "captcha" requirement, which means you are all free to post comments at will!