Thinking of One is Tom Mackey and …

April 5, 2016 at 11:48 AM | Posted in Thinking of One | Leave a comment

Tom Mackey is Thinking of One.ThinkingOfOne_03_black

I’ve just launched a new site at and today the first blog post went out.


Under the influence of my daughter Vanessa, the advertising maven, I created the site myself (using ahem, templates) and so am doubly excited as I had not thought myself capable of such a thing.

Thinking of One is my consulting company and I’ll be posting my biz thoughts from that site. I would really appreciate it if you would check out the site and the initial posts.

I am new at this consulting game and need all the help I can get!


The Cool Dad: A Calvin Recker Mystery (Book 1)

August 6, 2014 at 5:09 PM | Posted in Books | Leave a comment
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51RUmh58BOL._AA160_A detective, if we are to take him seriously must have adventures. The detective needs to be tested, to be put through the hoops if we are to believe in him. We readers need to compare how his mind works against this puzzle and then that one and against a variety of nogoodniks.

When we find a detective worth our time, we are too often late to the game – we come across a detective either in full stride or limping to his last inquest. We all met Sherlock long after shouting was over and by the time I met Commissario Guido Brunetti, the writer Donna Leon was on Book 18 and 25 is now scheduled for publication.

But the lucky ones were the ones who discovered Brunetti in 1992 when Death at La Fenice was published.

And so I alert you to the intrepid detective, Calvin Recker, in his first full length caper: The Cool Dad. Yes, word is out about him through three earlier stories but that form was not a large enough canvas for his powers of just-getting-by-enough to have an unlikely success. Like a long sunny afternoon that extends naturally into the evening, we are delighted to spend more time with Recker and his crew.

Get on the band wagon now and you will be one of those who will nod knowingly when people tell you that they just discovered the writer Brendan Mackey and the Calvin Recker Mysteries – as volume 26 is published!


A Boy Says Goodbye to the Great Captain

May 26, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Posted in Baseball, Family Life, Sports, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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On a beautiful day in Chicago at White Sox Park, with the new stalwart Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, on the day they honored the Great Captain Derek Jeter for his career achievements, on this day that is likely Number 2’s last game in Chicago, on the day the shortstop who has been greater than our wildest dreams turned a line drive into a double-play and was flawless in the field, on this day when the heroic batsman turned back the clock to go single, single, triple!, single before walking back to the dugout bat in hand, on this day a little boy named Jack, not yet 5, with his father and aunt and uncles and grandfather, saw his first Yankee game.photophoto


Another thing about Abbado

January 29, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Posted in Music | 2 Comments
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Unknown-1Famous conductors often live a long time and like most performers are loath to give up the stage even if, as Abbado said about himself, they are uncomfortable with the showbiz side of things. He wished that curtain calls did not exist. How striking it is  then to think about the five months Abbado spent with Leonard Bernstein as his assistant with the New York Philharmonic in 1963.

Abbado was a relatively detached conductor, communicating to his musicians  with the most economical  means while Lenny COMMUNICATED baby with every ounce of his physical and mental being: he danced, he bounced, he sweated, he sang and he whooped and cajoled – and boy did he enjoy the applause. Limelight became him.

Yet, they were both truly great. Perhaps because they stayed who they were that this is so – they let their genius out.

(I am thinking about one who belongs on Mount Rushmore: Pete Seeger.)

Happy 258th, Wolfgang!

January 27, 2014 at 5:49 PM | Posted in Music, Piano | 2 Comments
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About a year ago at this time, I heard David Dubal, noted pianist and writer say that for him, Mozart was the greatest composer of them all. Though the world would not argue with this, his choice struck me as odd. I had had my Mozart stretches but I didn’t consider him as deep, as profound as Bach or Beethoven. I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Six months ago I began to listen to Mozart almost daily and each morning I read one of his letters. Bach and Beethoven have lost no luster (I don’t want to trade one foolishness for another) but a joy has entered my life – a life-affirming joy! Amidst the famous Mozart gaiety there is a sadness in his slow movements that portrays an understanding of life that is beyond anything I have ever experienced.

As one example out of hundreds, here is Mitsuko Uchida in the 2nd movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #9 (of 27!).

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died at not quite 35. But he is not dead and so we say Happy Birthday Wolfgang, friend to the world!

Claudio Abbado, Farewell

January 24, 2014 at 3:08 PM | Posted in Mozart, Music | Leave a comment
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In younger days

In younger days

Claudio Abbado, the great Italian Maestro, died the other day at 80. He was from a certain line of Italian conductors that seemed untouchable in their devotion to music. High priests in conversation with Dante! I am thinking of Arturo Toscanini, Tullio Serafin, Carlo Maria Giulini, Riccardo Muti when I think of Abbado, who I saw several times in Chicago, many years ago.

He suffered from stomach cancer for well over a decade and this lent him an air both of other-worldly transcendence and deep courage. Here is a short video of the end of the Mozart Requiem from 2012 and one of his last performances. In the long silence after the last note we can’t help but think of Abbado holding on to the music, holding onto his beloved Mozart – holding on to life – for just one more exquisite moment.

I don’t think you will be able to watch it just once.

Farewell great Maestro, farewell.

Patience and the Piano

January 20, 2014 at 12:23 PM | Posted in Piano | Leave a comment

Playing the piano, like golf, lends itself to the cry of “if only ….” With golf I think, ‘if only I hadn’t taken myself so seriously, if only I had a better attitude, if only I’d gotten over my water phobia.’

With the daunting piano, we moan ‘if only I had kept at it! If only … now I’d be able to play.’ And it is true that if we had practiced for 25 years, we could now play decently. Possibly, anyway. But what I have found is that the very reason we quit playing comes back immediately upon recommencing practice, like the tendency to duck-hook in the vicinity of out-of-bounds markers.

In my case, two prongs of memory forked me back to the past. On a staff there are 5 lines and four spaces and there are, for the piano, 2 staffs (or staves), a treble and a bass. On the staff the lines are labeled by the notes that live on them. Going up in lines on the upper staff: E,G,B,D,F (Every Good Boy Does Fine) and in spaces: F,A,C,E. Forgetting for a moment the lines and spaces: E,F,G,A,B,C,D,E,F going up and  F,E,D,C,B,A,G,F,E  going down. So far so good.

But the lower or bass staff is lettered differently: G,A,B,C,D,E,F,G,A going up and A,G,F,E,D,C,B,A,G going down.

In between the two staffs is a line that is C – the famous Middle C. Above this C is the D that precedes Every and below it is the B that tops the A at the top of the lower staff.

Above and below the staffs lines continue but only appear as needed.

Each line or space is simply and logically named and like seeing a member of your family, easy to recognize. But as a group, hurdling at you at a (proposed!) 100 notes per minute, very difficult for me to read and translate to my fingers. This prong of the fork came back to me immediately.

The second immediate problem came in finding my place should I dare to look at my fingers wandering about the keys. Where was I? What was that last note? This was the second prong that wasted no time in forking me.

There is, of course, only one answer: practice/patience. There is not one without the other.

(But I’ve forgotten to mention accidentals strewn as they are, like character defects, amidst the lines and spaces!)

Saving Mr. Banks

January 8, 2014 at 2:22 PM | Posted in Movies | 3 Comments
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220px-Saving_Mr._Banks_Theatrical_PosterI am among the least Disney of adults. I met the minimal legal requirement by taking my two kids one time each to Disney Land and Disney World. I was not as wowed by Epcot Center as I was by Annette Funicello when I was seven years old or when I hung on the adventures of Spin and Marty.

But I come to praise the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, and it is not because I am attached to Mary Poppins, as I am the only one in the world not to see it – nor is this likely to change. The acting in Saving Mr. Banks is great and great in a way that is unusual these days.

Emma Thompson, in the role of writer P.L. Travers is wonderful. There is not a moment when she is not. But I point to two similar scenes as my proof: as she is about to press the elevator button to go to her hotel room, she glances longingly at the bar to her right, thinks about it and quietly goes up to her room. Next time she is at the elevator she looks again at the bar, pauses and goes in and takes a seat. She orders tea and the bartender brings it over and she begins to pour, first the milk and then the tea. She comments to the bartender that “tea is so civilized” … but he had already walked away. Ms. Thompson has timing.

Now, Tom Hanks is a big star and almost unique in that he as been big for a long time and has not joined the Over-Actors Club, whose Board of Directors include Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Leonardo De Caprio (youngest member ever) and Robert De Niro (only a part-time member). Hanks plays Walt himself with a presence Disney no doubt had, but he does not over-play it.

Even Paul Giamatti, who has looked into the windows of the Over-Actors Club, plays the small part of the limo driver Ralph – but as they say, there are no small parts – and he adds a jaunty, touching everyman to the show.

Saving Mr. Banks is a tear-jerker and worth the handkerchief.


January 6, 2014 at 12:34 PM | Posted in Personal Development | 3 Comments
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photoWeather is the talk of the town these days. I am doing well with it given my New Year’s Resolution of PATIENCE or rather, patience. In addition to my phenomenal and instant mastery of patience, I learned of our cancelled flight back to Chicago the day before  we were to leave and so we didn’t get stuck at La Guardia, nobody’s favorite airport. That helped.

Virginia Woolf wrote that “weather is for children.” I think she meant that adults should, as the Brits say, get on with it – and stop the complaining. I take another lesson from the great writer: dress as your mother would dress you when you went out in the snow. I now wear three layers in the house and wear scarves and ear flaps and gloves and mittens outside.

I recommend both patience and warm clothes – and just getting on with it.

If …

January 3, 2014 at 3:11 PM | Posted in Personal Development, Piano | 1 Comment
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If I did not have a piano I would be in a desperate search for one. Oh what pianistic castles in the sky I would be building! Spreadsheets would bow before my artistic justifications. My brain would get bigger and I’d live longer. I’d live better. I’d be a better person. I’d be everything I never was before. I would finally breathe.

But I have a piano and have had one for 25 years and can’t play even one song.

photoBut now I am super-motivated. I’ve just read a fantastic book: Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible by Alan Rusbridger. He is the long-time editor of the (Manchester) Guardian and an amateur musician. The book is a narrative of a year-plus in which Rusbridger attempts to learn and then play publicly the notoriously difficult Chopin Ballade #1 in Gm. This is juxtaposed against publishing the Wikileaks (led by the Guardian with the NY Times) and the Rupert Murdock hacking scandal.

Though Rusbridger is reasonably self-deprecating, it is impossible to not be in awe of all he gets in in a day. He has all the excuses I had for not playing (the press of business, travel, no consistent access to a piano …) and 10X more.

I am away from my piano for a few days but I’ve begun (again) anyway. How could I not?

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