Let's say we're all bees. Each and every one of us is buzzing about-
buzz buzz buzz.
The honey that we make is our lives. Experience has taught me two things...


...and LIFE is only as yummy as you make it!

Are YOU a Killer Bee?

bee my guest?

bee my guest?
Howdy Beezers! I'm excited to share something new with you... Over the upcoming months, most of the content you'll be seeing here will be from special guest contibutors! This is sure to add a new texture to this thing we've been weaving over the years. I know that many of my readers (yes, you!) are writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers. PLEASE feel free to contact me if there's something you'd like to contribute! I'd be most honored to pollinate... send me a note: m.mckinley@rocketmail.com

please be seated

September 30, 2009



Rainbow Booksellers
5704 West Vliet Street Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53208
Hours of Operation: Wednesdays 3:30-8pm and Saturdays 9am-5pm

I pull up a small wooden stool and perch myself in front of the candy counter. There are 2 girls sitting in the window sorting books, maybe 11 and 12. In my quietest library voice, I lean over the counter and ask Marye Beth what they're doing. She explains that they're doing community service for some program they're in at school. Oh. "Ladies you can take a break in 20 minutes."

Marye Beth pushes a pile of Tootsie Rolls across the glass in my direction. "Have one. You know you want one. No? How about a Nut Roll?".

Because of the shop's limited hours, it quickly becomes a hive of activity. A father and son pull up on their bikes and Marye Beth greets them by their first names, just like she's done with everyone who's walked through the door since I sat down. I wasn't familiar with the series of books the boy was inquiring about, but she was. The book isn't going to be out for several weeks yet, but she assures him that his order is placed, and that she'll call the house as soon as it arrives. She adds that she might even drop it off at his house that very night. Providing of course that he remains a model young man and a pillar of society. "Young ladies, you may have your brake now. I'll see you back here in 10 minutes."

More customers file in so I make my way to the back. I'm enchanted at every turn by the fanciful illustrations that grace the covers of books I remember reading as a kid, and books that have such catchy titles, I realize that my stash of books on politics and spirituality seem rather stale. I'm transported to a wonderment place in childhood as I peruse the novelty items, historic paper dolls, and hand-made wooden games. I pick up "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" and think to myself that I really ought to read the book before I see the movie. As I make my way back to the front, I see that the pre-teen do-gooders have returned from their break, and have been to the gas station on the corner where they purchased diet Cokes and Sun Chips. I reach for a Nut Roll from behind the counter and think to myself, "Humph. What do they know?"

The place is inviting and cozy, but not overly cutsie or fancy. Kinda like Marye Beth.

By day she works with teens in trouble. BIG trouble. Kids who've slipped through the cracks so far that they've already experienced incarceration. Without the guidance she provides, they're likely to end up back behind bars, or in other institutions. She knows well the importance of education, and the empowerment it brings. Perhaps that's why she's so passionate about books...Rainbow Booksellers has kept it's regular, but limited hours for 15 years now so that Marye Beth and her husband Joe can keep their day jobs, which in-turn allows them to keep the doors to their Magical Literary Kingdom open. This dedication to our future gives them not only my admiration and a place on The R&R Report, but makes them bonafide Killer Bees.

Do you remember your favorite childhood books? I do. The Outsiders, It's Not The End Of The World, The Yearling. Oh and I loved The Boxcar Children mysteries by Gertrude Chandler-Warner. As a kid I spent allot of my free time at the library. But had there been a magical place like Rainbow Booksellers in my life, I surely would have read more. Where else can you go for a 25 -cent bag of Candy Raisins, a fresh copy of Nancy Drew, and an bottomless cache of advice from the wisest owl on the block? Nowhere. That's the charm for both the child and the child at heart. Just one visit and you'll agree that it could never be replaced by amazon.com or kindle, and certainly not the library. Marye Beth and Joe are counting on it.

Marye Beth and Joe Croze celebrate Rainbow Booksellers 15th Anniversary, September 2009.
Photos courtesy of Honore Croze


September 26, 2009


Turn off all of the lights and break out the candles...

I'll just admit it right away, I'm a HUGE fan. I'm always excited about each new album release. The anticipation is palatable. When I heard that Barbra was recording an album of jazz standards produced by Diana Krall I got especially worked up, for I've been wanting her to record a jazz album for 20 years. There's been so much pre-release hype about "Love Is The Answer", I'm sure some have been wondering if it could possibly live up to the expectations...

Well folks, Streisand's 63rd officially released recording is a REVELATION! The end result isn't so much a traditional jazz recording, but a quiet and meditative collection of love songs. It's so incredibly intimate that you feel as if you're right there in the studio with her! From the opening tracks declaration "Here's To Life" to the dreamy Steve Allen-penned "A Time For Love", Barbra hasn't sounded so beautiful in years. And the album features some of her most deft vocal phrasing since perhaps the 1970's. Yes kids, it's that good.

Some highlights for me...

The first time I heard "Where Do You Start " was on a terrific Jerry Grillo recording in the early 90's. I thought it had such a beautiful melody and poignant lyric. I could easily hear Barbra singing it in my head- and have been hoping she would record it ever since. Well, as good as it sounded in my imagination, it never sounded quite this exquisite, or touching.

"Ne Me Quitte Pas (If You Go Away)" is one of Barbra's finest recorded performances in 3 decades. Just when you thought you'd heard every version of this Jacques Brel torch-classic, it gets the Streisand touch. As with most of the album [but especially on this track] it seems that "Streisand the actress who sings" has returned to her roots as a dramatic interpreter of lyrics. At 67, there's a burnished glow to her voice now, and a little raspiness here and there that adds a yummy new layer.

Her version of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" is so good that it may just become known as the definitive.

On the album's closer "You Must Believe In Spring", Barbra reminds us that hope springs eternal if only we believe. With just Diana Krall at the piano to accompany her, she delivers the lyrics with such tenderness and delicacy...a gentle plea to embrace all that is beautiful in life. It reminds me of the Streisand I fell in love with as a child. The Streisand that might be lost on some, but that her true fans connect with so easily. And ultimately that's what this album is.

A Valentine for lovers, and for her fans.

There are 2 versions available. Barbra recorded the album with Diana's quartet, then Johnny Mandel wrote some sumptuous orchestral charts which were recorded separately and layered on top. The "singular" disc contains the recordings with those orchestrations. The "deluxe" version has a complete second disc with the "naked" original quartet versions. There are a few discernible alternate vocal takes on this disc, which for fans will add to the joy.While I love both, I must admit I'm a little partial to the quartet versions, so I'm recommending to you the deluxe version.

I've now heard a few people refer to this as Barbra's "make-out album". I have to agree, and will add that it might be the most romantic album, by anyone, that I've ever heard. I have plenty of candles. So where's my slow dance partner?



September 25, 2009

The Game of Life

Watch this...

September 24, 2009


When it comes to embellishing your home, there are definitely some "do's and dont's". Personal style and taste are well, just that. Personal. There are however a few things I can no longer abide by. Things that were never a good idea. WARNING! You may see something on this short list that you have implemented in your own home. Instead of just frying you in the skillet, I'll make some gentle suggestions for alternatives...

Fight the architecture. Your decorating style can be as eclectic as you like, but you can never fight the architecture. The most common offense is paint techniques. People are intrigued by them because they offer something different, but trust me on this one. The second you attach, affix, or apply something to the architecture itself, it becomes a part of it. Venetian plaster will never look right in a ranch home, and the fortune you might spend on ragging, sponging, or stippling will never transport your suburban McMansion to Tuscany. Sorry.

Experiment with paint! Take bold chances with color! Find interesting wallcoverings! And leave the truly talented artisans who specialize in paint techniques to bestow their gifts on architecture that's fitting.

Invest your money in cheap, trendy furnishings. A modern classic, and what's trendy now are 2 different things. That's not to say that there aren't new classics being created as I write this, but you need to use some common sense. A suite of furnishings for a ridiculously low price is bound to mean that they'll have little integrity- in either style or durability. If we stop buying "disposable" furniture then we'll stop wasting the earth's precious resources and packing the landfills.

Buy wisely! Slowly if you have to. Acquire pieces for your home that speak to you, instead of just filling it up. If buying finer furnishings new isn't in your budget, then check out estate sales and estate sale shops. Typically people who've used designers have invested in quality furnishings. Their cast-offs can be your ticket to great style at a fraction of the price!

Wallpaper borders. ANYWHERE, EVER. Nuff said.

Fill your home with plastic plants. Of ANY kind. They collect dust, their mites, and off-gas to no end. 20 years ago it may have been a cute idea for the DIY decorator to top off their kitchen cabinets and book cases with fake ivy, but it ain't anymore. I defy you to open any shelter magazine and show me a potted ivy plant, tipped on its side, spilling out of a bookcase. A fake ficus will always look like a fake ficus. I won't even get started on the pollution caused by the manufacturing of these senseless decorations. Cabintes don't need "softening", so climb the step ladder and yank that dusty crap down right now, do you hear me?!

Bring real houseplants into your environment! They will bring that necessary element of life and "green" into the mix, and extra oxygen too! So you say you have a black thumb? Me too. Talk to someone at a garden center, or do a little research on the Internet about low maintenance plants. Be it plants, trees, or flowers, the choice to have real vs. artificial makes an astounding difference in your over-all aesthetic. I believe it will do something for you psychologically as well...

I'm sure there's more if I think about it. Hmmm. Meanwhile don't let this happen to you!

September 21, 2009


Los Angeles based Michael Alvarado and Adam Young are the geniuses behind these one of a kind-divine hand made quilts. Jonas Cepanica shared them with me, and I simply had to share them with you! This is the art of pollination folks...take note!

September 20, 2009


September 19, 2009


The Killer Bees now have readers all over the world, and I'm sure that people who live in other places have a certain connotation about the diets of Wisconsinites. Yeah I know, cheese and beer. However. A culinary revolution has been brewing here for some time now. These days Milwaukee and Madison are simply flush with outstanding restaurants, nationally celebrated chefs, and cutting-edge food artisans. If you're a local foodie, then chances are you're already watching Wisconsin Foodie. However this terrifically entertaining show which airs on local CBS Station 58, isn't just for the locals!

If you're a "foodie" too, I invite you to check out their excellent website by following the link below. Once you're there you can watch clips from the show featuring the likes of Jacques Pepin, and peruse truly amazing recipes from Wisconsin chefs. Season 3 launches on October 13th, but remember that no matter where you are, you can enjoy this delightful show from it's companion website. Check it out!


September 10, 2009

White OUT!

If all of your friends were jumping out of windows, would you?

Okay, so maybe that's an extreme analogy. But I am curious. Are you're ceilings white?
Why are they white? Because you're parents ceilings were white? Your neighbors? Because you saw the row of "Ceiling White" paint cans at the hardware store, and you thought you were supposed to? Have I got news for you...

Lets get one thing clear right from the start. One of the chief keys to successful design is repetition of color, of pattern or motif. I'm not talking about cutesy themes or Garanimals. But if you've got a room with a white ceiling and nothing else in the room is white, then its arbitrary. It relates to nothing. But Michael, why do they even make Ceiling White, you ask?

Because years ago our homes were not properly lit, and a white ceiling would refract light. Its 2009, and trust me this is no longer an issue. Ceiling White is only available because we're conditioned to painting our ceilings white, therefore there's still a demand for it. End of story.
While you may not be inclined to paint ANY ceiling in your home the vibrant turquoise pictured below, I will encourage you to take that wall color you have and just wrap it right over. Think of how easy it will be to cut in! If you're concerned that the wall color may be too saturated to use on the ceiling, consider 2 things.
  • Is it a really warm color? Warm colors advance psychologically, so a little volume in the space helps.

  • If its a really deep, saturated color be cautious of how much light the space gets. Dark colors absorb light, so you may need to add some back in with accent lighting.

Many years ago in an article that was written about me, the author stated that "One gets the feeling that if McKinley could strip every can of Celing White from store shelves, he would."
She was right, and my stance on the matter hasn't budged.

When are white ceilings appropriate? When the walls are white. When your mouldings are white, or when white is dominate in the color palette. Otherwise get out the roller, screw on a broom handle, and start painting!

September 9, 2009


If you live in Milwaukee or Chicago, don't forget about this coming weekend's INDIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL down at the Summerfest grounds. Its one of the coolest!
While we're on the subject, I thought I'd share this recipe from Simply Recipes for one of my absolute favorite deserts, Indian Pudding. Just follow the link below the picture...

September 8, 2009


It took me forever to learn how to tie my shoes. I remember being told by a an aide at the daycare I was in that I'd soon be in kindergarten, and she wouldn't be there to tie my shoes anymore when they came undone. So I asked my Mother to teach me again. Hand-eye coordination has never been one of Michael's strengths, patience was definitely not one of hers. After awhile, she told me to find "my own way" if I couldn't learn it her way.

Early into our 25 year friendship, I remember frantically asking Stacey what I should do about some "pressing quandary". Who knows what the situation was anymore, but I remember desperately pleading with him to help me make a decision. Frustrated by my whining on the matter, he simply told me to "figure it out". Wow. You mean I gotta be a big boy now?

Several years later when I had just moved to Wisconsin, I was forced to learn to drive out of necessity. I hadn't been scared of much in life, but learning how to drive scared the bejezzus out of me. Get this. I'd even purchased a CAR which was sitting parked in my garage. I was about to start my new job and there was no reasonable public transportation to get me there. I called Stacey in California. "What am I going to do?" He said to me very calmly, " You bought a car, right? Okay then. Get in it, turn it on, and FIGURE IT OUT!"

The next morning I drove myself to work. Naturally we got 7 inches of snow while I working, and on the way home I slid on some ice and took out a mailbox. But I figured it out.

There have been many things for me to "figure out" lately. There are definitely days when I wonder if my path will ever be clear of obstacles. Don't get me wrong. I loves me some good obstacle course. You usually come out on the other end feeling victorious and in better shape. However lately it seems that just about everyone I know is struggling financially, myself included. You know what though? My ability to plot, dream, and scheme has aided me in "figuring out" things my whole life. And I know I'll figure this out too.

Are you on an obstacle course?
Well put on your thinking cap and dig for that determination that lives deep inside of you! There's more than one way to skin a cat, ice a cake, or get from point A to point B. You wouldn't know it by looking down at my feet, but I never did learn how to tie my shoes the way most other people do. Instead I taught myself a knot that works for me, and my shoes stay tied, never coming undone...

September 6, 2009


Buzz Out!

Buzz Out!