Thursday, February 28, 2008

Paper Steak

There's a very good reason I don't often write about my childhood. I had a rough go of it. And so did my father. He watched as his wife, eight of his nine children, and his second wife died of various and sundry tradegies that included but were not limited to scarlet fever, tornado damage, and a pogo-stick mishap. I'm afraid that all of these tragedies got the best of my father, destroying his hope and ambition. Seeing the house foreclosed on, the cars repossessed, and the rest of our possessions sold at auction didn't seem to faze him. He simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away. I followed him, for I had nowhere else to go.

The hard times, they a-came.

My father and I bounced around from shack to shack. He stopped eating. At first I got nourishment from trash cans and road sides. After a time, I resorted to begging, and then to using my imagination. I began cutting pictures of food out of discarded magazines, and I attached these pictures to the wall of whichever shack we were squatting in. It was what we called "cold comfort."

To cheer up my father during these dark times, I wrote a song. And it goes a little something like this:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ride Report: The Chilly Hilly 2008

32.7 miles around Bainbridge Island. 2675 feet of climbing. 3 mph winds. 48-degree weather.

I made it!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dancing at Wintergrass

The Wintergrass festival is going on this weekend in downtown Tacoma. Michael and Jacob flew to Seattle specifically to attend this concert. Jacob got sick, so Michael and I headed down on Friday night to catch some bluegrass bands that I'd never heard of, even though I consider myself a bluegrass aficionado (I've seen O Brother Where Art Thou? twice). The first venue was disappointing. It was held in the same convention hall where marketing execs give slideshow presentations, so I had a difficult time getting into the mood. That all changed when we headed down to eat at The Grill, where the upper story of the pub was designed for live music. In front of a stage was a dance floor, and a bunch of people sat in seats and tables behind the dance floor or mingled by the bar off to the side that served alcoholic beverages to degenerates. Andy and Minette met us there with a couple of other friends. Now this was the right atmosphere for bluegrass! The band was jamming, people were dancing, everyone was having fun.

At times I wish I could dance like an ordinary person -- just go out on the dance floor and move to the music along with everyone else. It never turns out that way. I start dancing, people slow down to watch me, and as they move backwards, I can't resist the urge to dance in the vacated space. Within a couple of minutes, other dancers align themselves along the edge of the dance floor and clap in rhythm as they watch me in awe.

I was thinking last night would be different. My knee was hurting from tennis and I was a little tipsy from having drunk a bottle and a half of tequila. All it took was a modified rumba box followed by a cross shuffle slide, and there I was again with the dance floor to myself. As I said, I felt uncomfortable with everyone focusing on me, but even the band seemed to enjoy my moves. Besides, I figured I'd dance only one or two reels, sit down, and everything would return to normal.

That's when Michael Flatley showed up.

That's right. The erstwhile Lord of the Dance was ready to compete again. Before I go on, I want to get one thing straight. Neither of us currently hold the Lord of the Dance title. I took the title away from the self-proclaimed Feet of Flames eight years ago, defended the title several times, and then lost it fair and square to Lopsang Jambu, a Tibetan Sherpa. I retired at that point to focus more intently on my charity work. If I'm not mistaken, Phang Nguyen of Thailand currently holds the rights and responsibilities of the Lord of the Dance title.

I heard several members of the audience murmuring, "Dance off!" The atmosphere was electric. Maybe it was the fact that I was feeling loose from the small portion of alcohol, or maybe I simply underestimate my dancing abilities. Whatever the reason, the dance-off wasn't even close. The best analogy I can think of would be George Foreman knocking out Mike Tyson with the first punch. Flatley did an uninspired lindy twirl, I did a coaster step flair, and that was that. It was as if the Feet of Flames was trying to dance in two buckets of ice. He lamely hopped in place for a few seconds, and stopped. I threw down a three-quarter chassis, and Flatley simply walked off the stage.

Anyway, the Wintergrass festival has been fun.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Klepto Granny

I've written before about my obsession with frugality. "Frugal" is actually putting it nicely. Depending on the situation, "miserly" and "stingy" are more appropriate words. The bottom line is that I have a difficult time spending money. Part of it is philosophical. Being able to save (hoard?) money gives me a sense of freedom. Unfortunately, most people have this sense of freedom by rule, so saving money is actually an escape from my own imprisonment. Having extra money in the bank alleviates my irrational fear of being laid off just before the Next Big Depression hits. I've actually had to work hard to be able to spend money.

I'm convinced I got this stinginess from my grandmother, who was a young mother during the First Depression. My grandfather died fairly early after World War II, but he left her stocks, a paid-off house in Alhambra, and a paid-off dental office in Pasadena. She rented this office to the same dentist for 30 years, never once raising the rent. The guy was paying her $300 a month. Part of the reason she didn't charge him the going rate, which was probably ten times that amount, was because she feared he might leave. But she also adored the guy and appreciated the fact that he did a lot of free dental care for poor people. She was a good woman with a kind heart who spent nothing on herself. Her dishes were at least 40 years old, she made her own clothes out of cheap fabric, and she had more than a million dollars in the bank. She was far more generous to her children and grandchildren than she was with herself.

When she got old, something snapped. I've heard that minor idiosyncrasies can become full-blown manias during old age. Something like that happened to my grandmother. She started to steal things. When my mother took her to the store, she had to empty my grandmother's purse of useless junk during checkout. Each time, she emptied staples and glue and odd packages from the Asian food section. Her shoplifting got worse as she got older. She seemed to have no idea she was doing it.

During this time, my father and uncle were taking turns having her stay at their home. When the two weeks were up, they went through the same routine. One person took her to the bathroom while the other person went through her suitcase to pull out all the pens and bric-a-bracs and old sandwiches that she had swiped during her stay. When her condition deteriorated to the point where she needed to be in a nursing home (actually, it went well past that point if memory serves), they broke down and put her in a nursing home.

True story: The first thing she did in the old folk's home was sneak around and steal a bunch of other people's false teeth.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Woulda Shoulda Coulda

I just read this morning that Roy Scheider died a few days ago. This makes me sad for some reason. Sheider was 76, so he didn't exactly die prematurely. I guess it makes me sad because his acting career went off track somehow, and he was never able to get back in decent movies. He had a great run in the 70s with The French Connection, Jaws, Marathon Man, and All That Jazz. Then . . . poof. Just like that, he turned from one of Hollywood's leading actors into a B-list movie actor and then into a B-list TV actor. I wondered what the hell happened, so I did a little research. This explains everything:

He was originally cast as "Michael" in The Deer Hunter (1978), as the second movie of a three movie deal with Universal Studios. Because he did not believe that the character would travel around the world to find his friend, he quit the picture. Universal executives were furious, but they agreed to let him out of his Universal contract if he made Jaws 2 (1978), which he did. He later regarded pulling out of The Deer Hunter as the career decision he most regrets.

It's one thing to get rejected for a part. Kevin Costner is still bitter about not getting to play H.I. in Raising Arizona. It's a little worse to turn down a part that you'd be perfect for. Michael Madsen turned down the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, which Tarantino wrote with Madsen in mind. But getting the gig and then walking away from a classic movie because of "creative differences"? You don't think a troubled vet would return to Vietnam to bring his buddy home, but you're fine with a shark terrorizing resort islanders? That's gotta hurt.

By the way, there's a fun site with info on which movies actors turned down or were rejected for famous roles. Here are my favorites:

* John Denver turned down the lead role in An Officer and a Gentleman because he didn't like the script. "I got nowhere else to go!"

* Jack Nicholson turned down the role of Michael Corleone. The studio wanted Robert Redford or Burt Reynolds to play Michael Corleone. Even after filming started, there was pressure to replace Al Pacino. Luckily, once execs saw the dailies for the scene in which Michael guns down Sollozzo and the cop (warning: spoiler alert!), they backed off.

* Charlton Heston was considered for the role of Chief Brody in Jaws. "We're going to need a bigger gun!"

* O.J. Simpson was passed over for the role of the terminator because producers feared he wouldn't be taken seriously as a killer. I can picture him chasing down Sarah Connor in a golf cart.

* Clint Eastwood, Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, and John Travolta were all considered for the part of John Rambo in First Blood. That movie could have been much better -- or a whole lot worse.

* Lucille Ball was considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. "Oh Ashley, Ashley. Whaaah!"

Friday, February 15, 2008

Stimulate This!

Time for another bitch session. The economy is tanking during an election year, so lawmakers want to do something about it. They've come up with a plan to take 170 billion dollars out of the treasury and give it to the citizens. Many of us will be getting checks that range from $300 to $1200, and if we're concerned Americans, we'll spend it. An article in explains who's eligible:

To be eligible for a full rebate, single tax filers must have 2007 adjusted gross income (AGI) below $75,000 and joint filers must have AGI below $150,000. Single filers with AGI below $75,000 will get rebates of as much as $600. Couples with AGI below $150,000 will receive rebates of up to $1,200. In addition, parents will also receive $300 rebates per dependent child; there is no cap on the number of children eligible.

The stimulus legislation allows for a 5% phaseout rate for households above the income caps of $75,000 for single filers and $150,000 for joint filers. That means the rebates of those taxpayers will be reduced by the amount of income above the cap multiplied by 5%.

This means a family of four that earned $150k will get a check for $1,800 ($1,200 for the adults plus $300 for each dependent). A family of four that earned $160k will get a check for $1300 ($1800 - $10,000*0.05 = $1300). A family of four that earned $190k will get nothing ($40,000*0.05 = $2000 > $1800).

Why does this bother me? Well, let's take a look at two groups of people.

Group A

* Bob and Kitty Katz earned $139,000 living in La Verkin, Utah. The mortgage on their 6-bedroom home on five acres costs them $1,400 a month. They want to replace the 3-year-old hot tub, but they're not very liquid right now after paying cash for their Hummer. Bob's favorite football team was the Dallas Cowboys until he took a fancy to the Patriots this year, but after the Super Bowl defeat, the Cowboys are his favorite team again. Kitty never drives faster than ten miles under the speed limit.

* Bobby and Barb E. Dahl earned $149,500 in 2007 living most of the time in Jackson, Mississippi. Their income in 2007 came entirely from investment proceeds, but their yields were so weak last year that they fired their investment manager. All three of their homes are paid for. Bobby is a member of the KKK, and Barb picks at a festering boil.

* Brock A. Lee earned $75,000 in 2007 living in Kearns, Nebraska. The monthly mortgage on his 3-bedroom house is $750. Brock drives a Corvette, his favorite band is Genesis, and he has committed more than one date rape.

* Owen Cash earned $50,000 in 2007 living in Moreno Valley, California. He bought a home with an interest-only ARM loan in 2005 and wasn't able to make payments when the new interest rate kicked in. When he got his foreclosure notice, he declared bankruptcy, trashed the house and moved into an apartment. His favorite band is The Who, and he feeds anti-freeze to the neighbor's cats.

Group B

* Eaton Wright and Liv N. Good earned $180,000 living in Palo Alto, California. They usually earn about $110,000 a year together, but Eaton sold nearly all of his stock options to make a down payment on a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom home next to a freeway in San Francisco; the home cost them $745,000. Eaton's favorite band is Radiohead and Liv volunteers at her daughter's elementary school.

* Rocky and Sandy Beach earned $185,000 last year in Seattle, but this was unusually high. They were both laid off from their jobs and received severence packages that pushed up their income. Sandy got a contract job at Microsoft, but unless Rocky can get a job soon, they might need to cash out some of their retirement savings to make their $3,200 mortgage payment for the 3-bedroom house in Ballard. They were too frugal to see their favorite singer, Ryan Adams, when he played in January.

* Anita Shower is in financial trouble. To avoid short-term capital gains, she thought it would be a good idea to purchase ISO stock that her company in Boston offered her. She used her life's savings to pay for the stock, only to realize too late that the IRS treats purchasing the stock as income. According to the IRS, she "earned" $112,000, but her real income was closer to $70,000. Under the dreaded alternative minimum tax, she owes the government more than $17,000 in income tax. Unfortunately, her company's stock has lost most of its value under the current economic crisis, so she had to sell all her stock and borrow money to pay the IRS. If she didn't have her charity work and Bruce Springsteen albums to fall back on, she'd be in even worse shape.

What's the difference between Group A and Group B? Group A gets the stimulus refunds while Group B doesn't.

One of the great injustices of the current tax system is that the government fails to account for cost of living. Earning $150,000 in San Jose is far different from earning that same amount in Springville. In San Jose, that amount gives you a decent shot at buying a home, but a condo is a better bet for someone who doesn't want to be house poor. In Springville, that amount lets you buy a big house in a nice neighborhood and hire a housekeeper and buy garden gnomes. To the IRS, the salaries are identical.

Another problem is that the handout is based exclusively on 2007 earnings. I'm bitter because I picked 2007 to sell a bunch of stock options, which, combined with Wendy going back to work, pushed us over the cutoff point. Yes, it was great to be able to make a bunch of money last year, but it was just one year. And here's the thing. The government classifies us as too wealthy to get a piece of the $170 billion handout. In Seattle, we're smack dab in the middle of the middle class. And all my friends and neighbors who live in nicer houses and drive nicer cars are going to talk about what to do with this extra money, and I just have to take my ball and go home.

Don't make the mistake of thinking it's just this one-time tax handout that bugs me. No, sir. The IRS fails to account for cost of living in all kinds of ways. I'm fine with higher tax brackets, since people who make more money should pay a higher percentage of taxes, but why hamper the middle class' ability to save for retirement? A person who makes more than a certain amount ($140-$160k) can't contribute to a Roth IRA fund. Why? Because we're too wealthy to get a tax break when we retire? Pfff, I say. That's right. I said it! Pfff.

Maybe I'm the problem. Maybe I am really wealthy, and I just don't realize it. Yes, I'm going with that from now on. Here, let me get the check -- I make a lot of money. Or how about this? Listen, price is no object. The government thinks I'm a plutocrat.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Slow and Steady Loses the Race

During last year's Leadville race, I thought I did everything required to break the all-important 12-hour barrier. Before the race, I lost some weight and built up enough endurance to ride all day long. During the race, I ate and drank and stayed on my bike. Ten years ago, that effort would have given me a sub-11 ride. Nowadays, it gets me a 12:25 time. This means I need to build up my endurance and increase my speed this year, especially my climbing speed. How am I going to do this? I'm glad you asked! Here's my tentative plan:

Lose 16 More Pounds Before June - I currently weigh 181 pounds; I want to weigh 165 in early June. And then I want to stay in the 160s for race day. This is, of course, easier said than done. My current plan is to eat like this every day: I'll have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, eat soup or salad for lunch, snack on nuts and dried fruit so I can ride home without getting dizzy, and then eat only one dinner. No snacking. I'll limit myself to one dessert a week, with Saturday being the firm and final end of the week. (Last year, I was able to sneak in extra desserts by claiming Friday to be the end of the week and feasting again on Saturday.)

One Long Ride a Week - Until April, this will be a long, casual ride to build up saddle time. After that, I'll start doing more hills and building up my average speed. On Sunday's ride, I averaged 13.5 mph on a 43-mile ride. For those of you who aren't into cycling, that's not exactly swift. People going that speed are usually wearing jeans and a headband.

Single-speed Road Bike - I want to buy the Specialized Langster for $800, but I have a difficult time making big purchases. I swear, even if I had millions of dollars in the bank, I'd still keep going back to the bike shop to stare at the bike and rub my chin. If I do manage to pull the trigger and order the singlespeed, I'll use it for bad-weather commuting and pull all the fenders and lights off my road bike for speedy fair-weather rides.

Bursting - Some geeks call this "riding intervals" but that doesn't capture what I'm doing. I'm not riding intervals. I'm bursting. Picture the bicycling equivalent of someone getting shot out of a fucking cannon, and that's me. I'll do two bursting rides a week, each time on my way home from work. I know exactly where the sprints are, but I don't need to tell you. OK, I'll tell you. The short hill up Nickerson, a half-mile stretch at Myrtle Edwards Park, another half-mile stretch on Alaska, up the lower West Seattle Bridge, and then up the hill where my house is. The final bursts vary according to the route, but I fear giving too much information.

More Hills - Seattle has a bunch of hills that'll help improve my climbing ability. One 45-mile ride I did last year is called The Seven Hills of Seattle. I ride up two hills in West Seattle, one hill in Magnolia, two hills in Fremont, and two more hills in West Seattle. I recently mapped another 25-mile ride called The Seven Hills of West Seattle. It has seven hills.

Club Rides - I need to ride with other people who'll push me to go harder. I'll do the Chilly Hilly in two weeks and the STP ride with Nick and Elden in July. Once a month or so, I'll ride with a group in one of the planned Cascade Cycling Club weekend rides. Why not meet fellow riders?

More Mountain Biking - I did only three mountain bike rides last year before Leadville. I need to ride hard up Preston trail on Tiger Mountain at least five times during the summer.

There it is. My training plan. Suggestions are welcome.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Caucus and Bull Story

I attended my precinct's caucus on Saturday. Here's how it works. First, people need to become informed as to when and where their caucus will be held. This process weeds out the flibbertigibbets, along with the sick and elderly and the people who have to work on Saturday. Then, people go to the caucus location -- in my case a middle school -- find their precinct room, and sign in. Some people vote and leave, but most people hang around to discuss issues. My room was packed with 61 people.

Our precinct is alloted 4 caucus votes. After the first count, it broke down as 2 votes for Obama, 1 vote for Hillary, and 1 vote undecided. After two people spoke for a minute on behalf of each candidate, the floor was opened for discussion, figuratively speaking. It was exactly what you'd expect. First and foremost, we need to keep Republicans out of office because Bush has done great damage, etc. An avid feminist adored Clinton, and had the nerve to compare Obama's experience with Dubya's (I interrupted her by saying "That's not fair. The lack of experience was the least of Bush's problems!" applause applause -- it was an easy room). People kept saying we have two great candidates, but that Clinton has more experience; or we have two great candidates, but Obama is more inspirational. Who can beat McCain? Republicans hate the Clintons more than we hate Bush. Clinton is a good politician, whereas Obama is a brilliant statesman. And so on.

The only irritating person in the room (besides me, perhaps) was a 22-year-old woman who wouldn't shut up. (Is there a way we can limit these caususes to cigar-smoking men?) She kept babbling about her life and how us old people have driven the country into the ground, and we should just watch what will happen now that her generation is going to be able to vote. Just watch! Someone gently mentioned that election after election, people claim that young folks are going to come out in record numbers, but the bottom line is they stay home in droves. The girl disagreed loudly. Someone else pointed out that if young people voted in the same proportions as middle-aged people, we'd be talking about re-electing President Kerry right now. She talked over that person and then ventured into a numbing Safeway anecdote.

After the discussion, some of the undecideds committed to a vote, and the final tally ended up 3 votes for Obama and 1 vote for Clinton. The Clinton people went out in the hallway to elect their delegate, and the rest of us stayed in the room and picked our 3 Obama delegates. I agreed to be an alternate delegate, but I'm not sure what that means.

I enjoyed the experience, but I deeply regretted not going to a Republican caucus. That would have been interesting. First off, instead of having 61 people in the room, there would have been only ten or so. Second, I could have been a bull in a china shop, just talking out of my ass (it is a Republican caucus, after all). I wonder what I could have said that would have drawn a rebuttal.

"Is there any way we could repeal the 19th amendment that limits presidents to only two terms? Right now, this country needs President Bush in office for at least one more term."

"I just don't like McCain. He seems more interested in doing what's right for the country than in doing what's right for the Rebublican party. Can't we bring in Dick Cheney? Is Donald Rumsfeld busy?"

"For me, this election comes down to three issues. First and foremost, homosexuality has been decriminalized by our leftist justice system. Sodomy laws need to be enforced STRICTLY. Second, we need to build a big wall along the Mexico border and hurl all the Diegos and Sanchos over that wall. And third, we need to return to the gold standard!"

Now that would have been a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. (Photo from Minette's blog.)

Friday, February 8, 2008

I'm In

"Congratulations! Your entry into the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race has been accepted. Complete race packets including lodging info, maps and other general information will be mailed to you by May 1."


The fact that I have been accepted in this race puts me in the top 500 cyclists in the world. You see, this is a great race that elite athletes all across the world enter. Only 800 or so athletes are elected to race, and of those 800, roughly 300 are undeserving goofballs who are out of shape or who wear tennis shoes and skateboard helments and ride Huffy bikes that have not been lubricated properly. Since I am not one of the goofballs, that means I am one of the elite athletes, so please send me money or inspirational thoughts.

I know that being accepted into this race is not the final step in my fitness program. Indeed, I'm looking at it as more of a starting point than a finishing point, which gives me a leg up on some of my competition. After a trip to Disneyland and Super Bowl festivities, I weigh 182 pounds. That's a full 20 pounds below the obesity line and 140 pounds below the morbid obesity line, so let's just say I'm off to a good start. That's why eating a big brownie with three scoops of ice cream last night didn't really set me back, especially since it's the last brownie and it was delicious.

Enough resting on laurels. I'm ready to start training.

DTOF (Desired Time of Finish): 11:30.

CETFIROT (Current Estimated Time of Finish If the Race Occurred Today): Drop out at mile 60.

PETFWIR (Projected Estimated Time of Finish Which Is Redundant): 11:59.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Obama or Hillary?

An odd thing has happened to me. I was pretty evenly divided between Obama and Hillary. By the way, Wendy chastised me for referring to the broad in the election as "Hillary" instead of "Clinton," especially when I refer to the brother man as "Obama" instead of "Barack." I explained that I did this out of historical context. "Clinton" refers to Bill, not Hillary. I do want to be politically sensitive, so from now on, I'll refer to Hillary as "Clinton" and to Bill as "Clinton's husband." Anyway, over the past week, I have become completely, decidely, utterly in favor of Barack Hussein. I don't know why, but I'll grasp at reasons:

* I think McCain can beat Clinton, but not Obama. I DO NOT want another Republican in office. We need to send the same message we sent in 2006 and should have sent in 2004.

* The Clintons are good politicians, and Clinton's husband was an effective executive except for the intern-al fellatio, but they're money grubbers. Yes, I already have Clinton fatigue.

* Hillary will keep us in Iraq longer than Barack Hussein.

* Hillary voted to authorize war (or the threat of war -- whatever). I'm still pissed at all the Democrats who capitulated under the fear of being soft or unpatriotic in the wake of 9/11. Hillary was one of them.

* Other than Iraq, I don't think Barack's and Hillary's policies are significantly different.

* Hillary might be slightly better for the economy and she'd probably get off to a better start, but I just like Obama. I can't see him being hated or scorned by anyone but the craziest wingnuts.

So, go Barack! By the way, I'm going to the caucus next Tuesday. What do you call a person who goes to a caucus? Caucusoid?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Down Go the Pats!

I'm not the yelling type. Even in a sports bar where everyone is shouting, I bottle up my emotions and stay quiet. When Eli Manning hit Plaxico Burress in the end zone to give his team the team with less the 30 seconds left to go, I let out a whoop that startled the boys and made Minette and Andy cackle. I'm certainly not a Giants fan -- I root against them more often than not -- but I do hate the Patriots almost as much as I hated the Cowboys in the 90s. That loss by the Patriots was more pleasant than any loss since UNLV got beat by Duke back in 1992. The only drawback is that we have to keep hearing about the 1972 Miami Dolphins and their stupid champagne.

Here are my drunken observations from the game. Feel free to add your own:

* It was the without question the best Super Bowl ever played. Both teams played great. Brady led his team from behind with a little over 2 minutes left, and then Eli Manning (!) brought his team right back and drove the length of the field, throwing his second touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the defense that has shut every other quarterback down in the fourth quarter this year. There were only two turnovers, one by each team, and neither was particularly damaging. I'm tempted to say it was the greatest football game I've ever seen, but it's too soon to make such a claim. Still, I can't think of a better one at the moment.

* That first drive by the Giants was brilliant. Even though they got only 3 points, it wore down the Patriots' defense. And it set the tone for the game.

* There were several moments when the Patriots could have taken over the game, but the Giants' defense shut them down each time. After the Giants fell behind 7-3, they had to punt twice. Both times, they forced the Patriots to punt in turn, making the game a defensive battle. In the second half, the Giants could have melted when the extra man couldn't sprint off the field fast enough during a Patriots' punt, giving the ball back to the Patriots on the Giants' side of the field. But they sacked Brady and forced them to turn it over on downs.

* Why didn't the great Belichick try a 49-yard field goal on 4th and 12? If Gostkowski wasn't hurt, that goes down as a dumb decision.

* Tom Petty is old.

* The game was well-officiated. There was only one bad call that I saw -- a push-off by Amani Toomer on a long sideline reception -- but it didn't affect the outcome in any meaningful way (Manning threw his only interception shortly after).

* In the same way that the Colts' offensive line should have been the MVP in last year's Super Bowl, the Giants' defensive line should have been the MVP this year. They swarmed all over Brady, sacking him five times and making him look mortal.

* With two minutes left to go and my team down by four points, I'd rather have Eli than Peyton leading my team, even though Peyton is by far the better quarterback. Eli is cooler in the clutch. Or maybe I'm just deceived by his placid demeanor.

* If Asante Samuel had held on to that interception on the Giants' last drive, the sports world would be talking about how great Brady and Belichick are. Oh, and the 2007 New England Patriots would be the greatest sports team of all time. He had two hands on the ball, but he couldn't bring it down.

* The most amazing thing is that New England didn't play poorly. In fact, they played well. The Giants played just as well, and ended up with the ball at the end. I still can't get over it. At first, I thought that if these two teams played 10 times, the Giants would win maybe one of them. After the game, I got the feeling that the two teams are evenly matched. The Patriots would probably win 6 out of 10. The Giants peaked at the right time. The Patriots peaked in October. The October 2007 Patriots against the October 2005 Colts might be the greatest matchup of all time.

* I love watching that play by Eli Manning when he almost got sacked by two defensive players, spun away, and flung the ball downfield to a guy named David Tyree who made a circus catch with the evil Rodney Harrison hanging all over him. We'll see that play as often as we see Montana to Clark, Elway's jump and spin run, and Marcus Allen's cutback run.

* The Patriots are without question the greatest team not to win the championship. They remind me a lot of those 2003-06 Colts teams that couldn't get it done in the playoffs.