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

April 30, 2010


My friend Teresa Foster Kennedy recently plastered a slew of photos (circa 1987) all over Facebook. Ah, 1987. How well do you remember 1987? Jean shorts were the rage, Miami Vice was the hottest show on TV, and Madonna was bleached white-blonde for Who's That Girl. So was I. In fact, the Anahiem Stadium stop on that tour was my first ever concert. That Summer I also got my ears pierced, worked at Arby's, hitchhiked to LA with Teresa, and went on my one and only blind date [thank you Win and Amber]. I was 16, and I aged my Mother at least 5 years in just 3 months

Few of us were spared the nostalgic time machine treatment, as Teresa uploaded the blackmail-worthy photos, one by one. Naturally, I found the ones of me to be particularly unflattering, Thank God some things improve with age! And that my eyebrows grew back. I gotta tell you though, the more I looked at them, my cringes morphed into smiles. Big, grand smiles. I thought to myself, who was that kid? I began to assemble a memory of him. He was funny, and he was fearless of the world. Fearless of life. Perhaps in a most cautionary way, yet still- he was fearless. He was cool, and like most of the people I've rekindled with on Facebook, I'd like to get to know him again.

He inspires me.

So. 13 to 40 is about recognizing the boy I was, and finding out what he can teach me about the man I've become. Will I bleach my hair in commemorative fashion to celebrate my 40th? Doubtful, but you never know. He always was a bad influence on me....

April 24, 2010


I'll never forget the first time I met Barbra Streisand. Let me explain...

I was 6 years old the first time I heard that voice. I pulled down a stack of my Mother's lp's off the closet shelf, and selected the one that had the picture of a pretty lady with long blond hair on the cover. Once the needle grazed the vinyl,  I was instantly transfixed. I'd never heard anything like that before, and I wanted more. I played it over and over. Side One, Side Two. I was of course too young to understand the emotional depth of this very adult material, but I felt it. I felt her. It was the first time my soul ever connected to music, and it would be a connection that would span decades. Was it just another case of little gay boy getting his first case of Diva-itis? Perhaps, but it would not be the last time our paths would cross....

By the time I was 9 I'd collected all 39 of the albums she had recorded up to that time. Christmas, birthdays, Valentines Day or Easter- any excuse I could use to get my Mother to buy me a missing piece in the heralded discography. On the day of a new album release, I would run all the way from school to Cheap Thrills Records so I'd be there in time for the UPS delivery. They'd slice the box open for me, and I would get the first copy . Most 9 year old boys back then collected baseball cards and comic books. But every penny of Michael's allowance went into his Barbra collection. Fanzines, recordings, bootlegs and biographies.

Because I was a nine year old boy who collected Streisand, was overweight, and wore glasses, I was picked on mercilessly. Therefore the Streisand 'story' appealed to me too. The ugly duckling misfit kid who didn't look like, sound like, or act like anyone else beat all the odds, and won the world over with her spellbinding talents. 

As a kid I saw more parallels in our childhoods than actually existed, but her story of triumph gave me hope that I too would make it out of my own miserable youth. I would come home from school and loose myself in her music for hours on end. She inspired me to want to be a singer. Not because I wanted to be famous, but because I wanted to be able to make a noise that beautiful with my voice. And maybe, just maybe if I could, people would love me too.

It was at the intersection of adolescence and Yentl that I would meet Barbra again.
We both were about to turn a corner...

Yentl was the first Streisand film I was old enough to actually see first run ,on a movie screen. I had called the Santa Maria Theater  to find out when it was opening in town. They told me it wasn't! Can you imagine my panic? So the night it opened in Santa Barbara, my Mother and I made the hour long pilgrimage. Even more than being dazzled by every frame that projected onto the screen, I was touched profoundly by the fairytale like story. Yentl and I both possessed a secret that was so big, it's admittance would change our lives, and the lives of everyone around us forever. When this 41 year old woman fought her way through male dominated Hollywood to make her film about a girl who perpetrated an unbelievable lie in order to live a life that was forbidden to her, I realized I could never fight who I was...and this 13 year old boy busted the door off of his closet, right off of it's hinges. 

I would continue to bump into her through my teens,  20's, and 30's...

Barbra has always been a champion of important causes. With her intellect and talent, she has raised millions of dollars for and through her foundation, to fund those causes. After school programs, women's health issues, and the environment. You can argue her politics all you like, but you can't deny her financial contributions to improving the lives of others. She has spent a lifetime courageously marching to her own drum, whether YOU like it or not. Perhaps it is this facet of Barbra I admire most now. Not the singer or filmmaker, but the activist. The compassionate woman who believes in everybody's right to their human rights.

I remember when Rosie interviewed her back in the mid-90's. She thanked Barbra "for being a constant source of light in an otherwise dark childhood". When Rosie started to cry, I did too. I understood her emotion. You see, it's not just about being in awe of celebrity, or envy of talent. It is about recognizing a truth in someone, and having that truth inspire you when you need it most. Barbra could have just as well been a sister, a mentor, a teacher, or guidance counselor at school. For Rosie and I, she was all of the above. Without ever knowing it.

Does it sound as if I'm elevating her to some sort of Goddess level? I'm not really. I'm just saying thank you. For sharing HER truth, for inspiring me.

I look forward to running into her again. I understand that while many may know her not everyone gets to meet her , like I did. What a privilege.

April 22, 2010

THE R&R REPORT: Palermo Villa

Palermo Villa Restaurant
2315 North Murray Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
View the menu@ http://www.palermovillarestaurant.com/index.htm

How does any restaurant keep people coming back for 35 years?
Well first you need a good recipe. Most importantly you need the right ingredients, most of which you won't find in a pantry. They include: hard work, consistency, and a whole lotta TLC. Palermo Villa has the right ingredients....

The freshest of everything, always. Pasta dishes to die for, sandwiches (do the sausage patty, just do it), salads ( don't ask for the Kathy Salad, its been retired ) and the pizza, dear God, the pizza.  This is a real deal hand-toss crust. Family recipe dough, homemade sauce, and hand spiced Italian sausage. So perfect in every way, it will ruin you for the others- trust me on this.

I worked at Palermo for 7 years, but compared to others, I was short term. The people who work for Kathy are usually in it for the long haul because they love her, and they love her because she treats them like family. The same goes for her loyal customer base. With a laugh that warm, and food that delicious, Kathleen Mirenda can make no enemies. When I decided to take the video camera on an R&R Report for the first time, going home to Palermo Villa was my very first thought.

I know I harp on you about this almost every time I do an R&R Report, but I'm going to say it once again- it is imperative that you shop and dine locally owned, as often as possible! In doing so, you will help ensure a healthier and more balanced community, and local economy...and you'll keep family owned restaurants like this Eastside gem around for future generations to enjoy.

When you stop in and see my family, tell them who sent ya.

April 20, 2010


No, here's to you Barbra...

April 18, 2010


It's a great cause, I encourage you to attend if you can!

April 16, 2010


April 15, 2010


April 14, 2010


Cell phones, email, Facebook. Linkedin, Twitter, texting, and chatrooms. I won't mention Myspace because, well, who does Myspace anymore?

Born under the sign of Gemini, I should be the greatest of all communicators. Yet I am afraid that all of this pressure to communicate, almost constantly, is bringing me down. Lately the sound of a phone ringing makes me cringe. Sometimes my cell and the land-line at the shop are ringing simultaneously. I get home and inevitbly within a minute, that phone is ringing.

There are emails to reply to, and Facebook messages to respond to.
There are always voice-mails to return.
"Dude. I've been blowing up your phone, why aren't you answering?!"
Because I turned it OFF. Sorry if I don't get back to you right away. After a long day of being on the phone, on the computer, (hopefully) talking to customers, and perhaps maybe not having the best of days, the last thing I want to do is talk about it. I love you. Get over it. The caller ID on my phone was broken for 4 months. It was torture.

I'll admit it. Facebook has been a Godsend. I'm grateful to be able to log in, and in 20 minutes know how 219 people are doing today, and in as much time as it takes to muster something relatively clever, I can let them know I'm still breathing. Now if only I could limit myself to one login per diem.
I have disabled the chat feature.

Texting. I have no time for it. I don't have a fancy phone with an easy to navigate keyboard to send you quick replies, and I don't really want one either. In the time it takes me to PAINFULLY execute a response, I could have had a conversation with you. Besides, I see people getting pissy about other people's texts all the time. It's usually a perception issue due to the fact that you can almost never read someones intonation. This can be easily remedied by actually SPEAKING to someone. Providing they answer their phone.

Someone informed me the other day that when you're in a chatroom, if YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS, THAT MEANS YOU'RE YELLING! Wow. I had no idea there was such a thing as chatroom etiquette. And why should it surprise me that at grade schools across the country they've stopped teaching children cursive writing? People don't send thank you notes anymore, so why should they ever learn? However I guarantee you that every 12 year old in America knows how to LOL with their BFF. I mean OMG, GTFO! Are we really living in the greatest age of communications advancement , or are we careening toward a huge breakdown in how we interact as a society, a people?

Really, that's the point in this little rant. With all of the technological advances in interpersonal communication, we're certainly communicating more, but is it better? I know for myself personally, that would be a big no, and maybe that's been a subconscious choice. Because I honestly can't think of a thing much more dreadful than being tethered to an electronic device. I say this of course as I compose at my computer.

Throughout  human history we have longed for better, faster communication. We invented the written word, and just kept going. Messages in a bottle, carrier pigeons, telegrams, morse code, the telephone. I think we would be wise to remember that  the reason we once strove for better communication, was to get a message to someone that was perhaps more meaningful. 30 years ago when long distance cost 50 cents a minute, if you called someone out of town, it was because you had something to say!

I owed about  6 people phone calls when I got home tonight. I made 2, then decided to sit down and write. To be quiet, with just myself. To take time to work on a solitary project. I'll get back to everyone eventually, one at a time,  when I have time to actually have a conversation with them. Because when I do talk to you, what I want to know is how you really are. TTFN.

April 12, 2010


My dear friends and interior designers Ken Ludwig and Marijo Gordon recently got the chance to host a great segment on LXTV Openhouse... How did Ken make it to television before me? HA!
Michael is so very proud of both of you!


Check out the newly relaunched magazine style format... and all that sizzles!


I was so excited when Stacey asked me if I would contribute a monthly column to Stacey's Hot Dish!

Joe coined it POTLUCK, and you can  read my first piece on Molasses Ice Cream ( and my inevitable foray into ice cream sandwiches...they're hard!) now, by visiting the all new STACEY'S HOT DISH!


2 of The Killer Bees will be strutting their stuff on this up-coming Gallery Night/Day in Milwaukee!

Cherrie Hanson will be presenting a new series in her extraordinary, award winning bubble photography, called SPHERES OF LIGHT. Where? Moda Salon 151 North Water Street  Friday 5-9 & Saturday Noon to 4.

I will be showing my paintings at The Hotel Metro, in the ballroom.
411 East Mason /  FRIDAY NIGHT ONLY!


April 11, 2010


DIXIE CARTER 1939-2010

20 years ago when I lived in Los Angeles, I worked for Tower Records. Let me rephrase that. I worked at thee Tower Records. Located at the intersection of Sunset and Holloway in West Hollywood. A block from Beverly Hills and across the street from Spagos. You get the picture. My constant bliss-out from being surrounded by so much great music was star-kissed daily, by the sheer convenience of geographic location.

I swear this place was the size of a football field, but man I knew that joint like the back of my hand. I worked customer service right smack in the middle-  it was my JOB to know it! Over the 2 years I worked there I met and or waited on just about everyone. David Bowie, Liza Minnelli,  Elton John, Grace Slick, Steven Spielberg, Bette Midler, Michael Jackson, and George Michael. Whoopi Goldberg used to have me paged to help her personally. It was a super cool gig that netted me about $40 a day, if I could refrain from using my 15% employee discount.

One day Dixie Carter's assistant came in armed with a stack of promotional materials. Dixie had just released an album called "Dixie Carter sings John Wallowitch Live at The Carlyle", and her gal was looking for someone to go around and distribute the materials which were promoting both the album, and an upcoming  cabaret show in L.A. Naturally she gravitated  toward the little gay boy with orange hair and top-stitched clogs. Just as naturally I agreed to help her out. I approached the assignment with fervor and made sure that the "half-sheets" for the live performance made it onto the walls of every boy's bar in West Hollywood. 
I mean it was 1990. Who wasn't watching Designing Women?

I was too broke to go to her show at The Roosevelt, but I got my reward. About a month afterward I received a thank you card at the store. It was from Dixie herself, personally thanking me for helping her sell out the show. I was charmed by her thoughtfulness for sure, though I seriously doubt that I had anything to do with her selling out. I mean it was 1990. Wasn't everyone watching Designing Women?

By the way. That album is AMAZING, if you can find a copy. Thanks Dixie. For turning me on to John Wallowitch. For bringing music to our ears, and smiles to our faces. 

April 8, 2010


Jason McElwain is an amazing young man...

April 2, 2010


Whenever she pulled her Chevy Nova into the parking lot of of the 7-11 on Blosser Road to pick up a lottery ticket, my Mother would say "If you don't play, you can't win." Of course we all know what the chances of actually winning the lottery are, but she had a point.

I won't pretend to be the first person to use this old saying as a metaphor for life, but I would like to examine it a little closer for just a minute...

First, you have to decide what kind of player you are, and what the objective of the game is.

Pragmatics: The pragmatic person often seeks higher education, and follows the rule book their handed to a T. They tend to excel at the game because they play by the rules. Unfortunately, whether they believe they've won it or not ,is often colored by the level of "success" or perceived success they achieve along the way. Like trading in your 4 houses for a hotel in Monopoly. Less aggressive pragmatics will sit back and let the game run its course if they don't believe they have "the stuff" it takes to win, or do what it is they really want to do.

Dreamers: Pragmatics may grease the wheels that make the world spin round, however it's the dreamers who set them in motion. Dreamers eschew the rule book their handed, and write their own. They catalyst change and invention. But there are 2 kinds of dreamers as well. The dreamer who is content to play architect, but not do the work necessary to build the dream, will be continuously disappointed in life because dreaming alone does not make a life lived. Unwilling to make sacrifice, they are likely to end up just as bitter as the person who got the good grades and went to the right schools... only to find out later the rule book never mentioned that her husband could leave her for his secretary, or that his daughter might end up a pothead!

Pragmatic or Dreamer, you have to have to play the game in order to win. In other words you gotta do the work, and have faith in the outcome- WHATEVER it is. More importantly, you must be willing to accept [and be okay with] the fact that things don't always go the way we want. In playing any game you have to realize that you're not going to win every hand you're dealt. Sometimes you even need to skip a turn, or sit-out a round to replenish your stamina.

Or lick your wounds. It's cool.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm the Dreamer type. But I also PLAY. Over the years I've had more creative endeavors than Meryl Streep's had Oscar nominations. Do they always work out? No. Would I like to be financially secure and have dental insurance as I careen towards 40? Yes, just ask my tooth that needs a root canal. But I'm an artist, and I'm writing my own rule book as I go along. To the pragmatic, there could be no riskier or irresponsible behavior. To the player intent on carving his or her own path, there is no other option.

Mom never did win the lottery, but she did spark a fire inside her son that refuses to be extinguished. I'm writing my own rule book AND I'm playing the game. Will I win? Well the beauty of writing your own rules means that when the game is over, you will be the only one who can define whether or not you've won.

What's my objective? It's very simple. TO PLAY, always to play.
For the love of life, the game itself.

April 1, 2010




Eggs. They're not just for breakfast anymore.


Last year's Easter table was, if I do say so myself, eggceptional. Sorry, I couldn't help myself! There were actually 2 tables to accommodate the crowd, and I had a very specific idea of what the place card holders should be. Colored Easter eggs with everyone's names written in clear wax crayon. Naturally, the color I had in mind was specific too. [What?! I'm an interior designer, get over it!]. The finished eggs would rest in little pink-iridescent nests to mark each guest's spot. [Yeah. So I'm steroidally gay. What's your point?]

I decided the only way I was going to achieve this nebulous color was with natural dyes...except I'd never tried it before. I didn't really even have time to Google, so I mixed left over coffee with vinegar and a little turmeric...and voila, perfecto! Stacey provided the crowning glory by gracing the table with his magnificently decorated, signature carrot cake. Click the pic to enlarge it, and check that baby out!

I'm an absolute convert now so I thought I'd share my little experiment with you, and perhaps inspire you to try something different. There are all sorts of articles on the internet. Recipes for color, based on natural foods [No wasting the scraps! Use your beet ends and onion skins!]. Methods for both cold and hot baths, plus tons of tips and techniques to assist you in creating your own little masterpieces!

Aren't they gorgeous?

The rich, vibrant, and unusual colors are striking...


When I was poking around Google Images today, I ran across the most amazing Easter eggs...
I could NEVER be that ambitious!

Buzz Out!

Buzz Out!