I Have Some Things on My Mind

It’s true. I have some things on my mind this week. Here they be…..

My left knee and I had a falling out, so to speak. We’re currently not on speaking terms. I’m doing my part to reach out, to bridge this gap between us, to treat my knee with the loving care it so richly deserves. But does it respond in kind? Does it? Pray, does it?

Nae, it doth not.

So, what happened:

I wrecked the left knee in a little bicycle accident about 10 days ago. And by “little,” I mean “impossibly little.” I was on a bike path and veered on to the grass so I could pass a mother and her son who were walking ahead of me. I was going maybe 5 miles per hour. Slow, very slow. When I was far enough in front of them, I veered back toward the path, but my tires got stuck in a groove between the grass and the path, and down I spilled.

It seemed like nothing at the time. I’ve had worse bike spills – plenty. There was no hard contact or pain upon impact. I got up, figuring I’d ride away. I was more worried about my bike than myself.

But when I tried to stand on my left leg, it had other ideas. The pain shot up to my brain and sent me a red alert. Some nice people – including the aforementioned mother – walked me and my bike up a hill. They got me back on my bike and I was able to ride home, slowly and gingerly, coasting much of the way, maybe 2 or 3 miles.

Long story short: It looks like a ligament tear, or maybe some cartilage damage. Some heavy swelling and bruising. I can’t put much pressure or weight on the knee. I’m on crutches. I have to sit down to go up and down stairs, using my arms. I’ve had a few doc consultations, all of them telling me what I probably knew anyway. It’s not a fracture, so that’s good. Should clear up in a few weeks with rest, elevation, ice, etc.

This is how life works, yes? You never know when some silly little something appears out of nowhere and turns your life upside down.

The injury has forced me to do only what I need to do: work, eat, sleep, minor house chores. No bike rides, no errands, no kicking around town, no going out to pubs or jazz clubs or restaurants or shops.

And the truth? It sucks having a knee injury, and I miss riding my bike and all the other stuff. But sometimes the world gives you a hint that maybe you really should slow down for a spell.

So that’s where I’m at. Slowin’ down for a spell. And it’s kind of refreshing.

Here are some other things on my mind…..


One thing a hurt knee gave me was a whole lot more time on my hands. I spent part of that time binge-watching “Better Call Saul” on Netflix. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s the prequel to the mega-successful TV hit “Breaking Bad,” which ran from 2008-13.

If you’re not familiar with “Breaking Bad,” it tells the story of a schlubby high school chemistry teacher named Walter White who is diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer and decides to start cooking up crystal meth so he can make a ton of money and leave his family a nice inheritance. Bloodshed, death, destruction, and chaos soon ensue. I thought the show was pretty damn good, though maybe not as brilliant as others claimed.

One of my favorite characters in “Breaking Bad” was the sleazeball attorney Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk. Saul’s schtick was that if you’re in trouble and want to avoid a stiff jail sentence – or if you want to sue someone just for the hell of it – you “better call Saul!”

Saul was basically there for comic relief. He was a loud, fast-talking, corrupt, money-grubbing, unethical, and altogether hilarious caricature of an ambulance-chasing lawyer who dressed in loud suits, and whose office looked like a cheap Vegas casino.

The ”Better Call Saul” spinoff debuted in 2015 and ended last year. I had always meant to watch it, and my hurt knee gave me the chance. I probably watched all six seasons’ worth of episodes in a couple of weeks.

My verdict?

Yeaaahhhhh, I dunno…..

“Better Call Saul” has been lauded as brilliant, groundbreaking, magnificent, etc., by the usual collection of critics who probably all hang out at the same places. And yes, some of it is brilliant, from the auteurish black-and-white neo-noir scenes that pop up occasionally to some of the performances and much of the writing.

But honestly, it left me a little cold. The Saul Goodman I loved in “Breaking Bad” turned into the worst kind of shallow, self-absorbed asshole by the end of “Better Call Saul.” He had a certain humanity during the early episodes involving his older brother Chuck, but then descended into a character it was impossible to like. Which is fine – unlikeable characters are fine.

The problem with this Saul Goodman (real name Jimmy McGill) is that he isn’t very interesting. He’s essentially a petty crook who cooks up silly little cons and pranks and keeps making the same tired wisecracks until you want him to slip on a banana peel and crack his skull. His associate and love interest, Kim Wexler, played (very well) by Rhea Seehorn, is a character with all kinds of possibilities who also descends (improbably) into mundane petty cons until senseless tragedy teaches her some Important Life Lessons (because of course they do).

I grew to detest seeing Saul and Kim. I would fast-forward through whole scenes when it was just the two of them together. I literally did not care what they said or did. I just wanted them off the screen, so the action could focus on someone more engaging – like Lalo Salamanca, the smiling, charming, and happy-go-lucky psychopath who was a big and violent player in a Mexican drug cartel.

Plus: Lalo loved food, and looked like he knew his away around a kitchen, whipping up these delicious looking meat-and-chili pepper concoctions you load into tortillas. Now that’s a character I can get behind….


My recent injury also coincides with the Great Black Hole of my personal sports fandom year. This is after the end of the American football season and before the beginning of baseball season. The only thing I have much interest in watching right now is tennis, which I have to do on my laptop through a subscription to Tennis TV, because they don’t show hardly any tennis on the TV networks here in London, the bloody wankers.

For us Yanks, February and March usually mean basketball and/or ice hockey. I’ve never really latched on to ice hockey, being from the sunny South, unless it was to take in Charlotte Checkers games at the old (and original, and only) Charlotte Coliseum.

I used to gobble up basketball, pero no mas. The only time I’m tempted to watch basketball anymore is when the Charlotte Hornets play. But they never show Hornets games over here in the UK, because the Hornets suck. All you get are the good teams.

This could be the first year in more than half-a-century that I don’t watch any of the NCAA basketball tournament, aka March Madness. I haven’t watched a single college basketball game this season, because I just don’t care about it anymore. The rosters turn over every year thanks to the transfer portal and players bolting for the NBA the second their freshman seasons end.   

Baseball will soon start, in a much different form. There will be a clock timing when pitchers must pitch – a first for a sport that has long been renowned for not being on the clock. The bases will be wider. Extreme defensive shifts will be outlawed. It’s all designed to speed up the games (a good thing) and encourage more offense (to be determined).

But I still get a kick out of turning on a baseball game, and ever shall. Play ball!


There will come a time in the not-so-distant future when the greatest jazz musicians of the greatest jazz era have all departed this mortal coil. That era was the 1950s and 60s, when jazz was continually reinventing itself and setting new standards for innovation and creativity.

The era started out in the acoustic bebop period of Charlie Parker and ended with the experimental free jazz of groups like the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the electric fusion jazz found in albums like Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew.”

The roster of living legends has thinned considerably over the last couple of decades. It thinned again last week with the death of saxophone giant Wayne Shorter at 89.

Shorter’s career spanned 60-plus years, from the waning days of 50s hard bop to the present day. He was a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and then Miles Davis’ second great quintet.

Shorter also made some outstanding solo albums for the Blue Note label, including his classic “Speak No Evil,” widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz albums of all time. He later was one of the frontmen for the seminal 70s fusion group Weather Report. On top of all that, he was one of jazz’s truly great composers.

Weather Report’s biggest hit was “Birdland,” released in 1977. It remains one of my favorite tunes from that decade. Here’s a link to a live version, in case you want a taste.

Those are some of the things on my mind this week….


  1. Sorry to hear about the knee, and I hope it gets better soon. Last year, I sprained my arm while sleeping, which I suspect was my introduction to embarrassing middle age injuries and a reminder that this body is past its peak now. I’ve been unable to do my regular exercise for two weeks now, first due to other unwanted strains, then what seems like a 24/48 hour bug (which thankfully gave me a day off work)… which reinforces the reminder.

    But I suppose the older we get, the more we have to accept that the decline is inescapable, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Yacoob, the getting older part I probably have downplayed more than I should regarding the knee. In truth, this kind of little accident might not have caused this kind of damage 10 or 20 years ago. I have to keep reminding myself I am no longer a young man, by any definition. Dang it….:)

      As for your arm sprain while sleeping — that’s probably more common than you realize. All those twists and turns in the middle of the night. I tend to wake up sore in some place or another anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Injuries as one gets older seem to take much longer to heal, no matter whether we’re in good shape or not. I hope your knee gets back to 100% soon. I’ve never sampled Breaking Bad or Saul, and sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who hasn’t. Maybe one day, but hearing of its subject matter for whatever reason did not spur me to watch either. Those Charlotte Hornets…amazing how some NBA franchises just putter along year after year without glory. As for college hoops, I totally get where you are coming from but I still remain a March Madness fan in concept and will be “in seclusion” when the games start, trying to watch all of them simultaneously. I’ll be posting on that shortly and I hope you will suffer through my enthusiasm. I can’t wait for the start of baseball to see these clocks play out. It should be great theatre watching the players try to game the system of countdowns and restrictions on everything. I fear the World Series will be decided either on a player’s delay or doing too much of something. I hadn’t thought of Weather Report since the 70’s. I remembered Birdland once I heard it here. Jazzy excellence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Bruce, yep, it takes more time to heal as we age. And another thing I’ve noticed is that my right leg, knee, hip, etc., are not at all happy about having to do all the heavy lifting right now. I don’t think it was as harsh when I was younger and maybe had some ankle issues.

      The Hornets — sheesh. They’ve been around 34 seasons and in all that time they have won a grand total of 4 playoff series — only to get bounced in round 2 every time. They’ve only made the playoffs like 10 times, which seems ludicrous in the modern NBA. They’ve just always had lousy ownership and management. And they’ve been incredibly unlucky in the NBA lottery.

      I feel like I’ll probably break down and watch March Madness this year, like always. But I cannot name a single college basketball player — and I am from ACC country! I imagine that’s partly or even mostly because 70% of the rosters seen to turn over from year to year.

      Thanks for the feedback. I look forward to your March Madness blog.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s