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

December 27, 2011


 We've got that holiday feeling...

December 20, 2011

Up On The Rooftop

I like the way this kid thinks...

LONDON (Reuters) - A worried letter from six-year old Leo Park sparked a mammoth operation to test what is believed to be the world's first chimney specifically designed to accommodate Santa Claus.

The little boy's parents are having a house custom built and when Leo viewed the plans he was concerned that the chimney wasn't big enough for Father Christmas and his famous belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly.

As he was penning his traditional letter to Santa, Leo decided to also write a heartfelt missive about the chimney design problem to Jeremy Paxton, who owns the estate on which the new house is being built.
In childish scrawl the letter reads: "Dear Mr Paxton, I am worried that my mummy's house does not have a big enough chimney. I think Santa Claus will get stuck. Please can you help. Love Leo Park."

Paxton, founder and owner of luxury holiday home development Lower Mill Estate in the southwestern English region of the Cotswolds decided to commission a special formula to satisfy Leo's concerns.

Obviously size was the key consideration to ensure Santa won't get wedged tight on his way to stuffing the stockings and so Paxton enlisted a mathematician to take on the challenge and save the jolly old elf from turning red for the wrong reasons.

The Santa-friendly formula looked at risk factors of chimney entry, the size of St Nick's girth versus the width of the chimney at its narrowest point.

To test what they said was the perfect chimney, Paxton enlisted the help of a stand-in Santa Claus in full padded outfit, a crane, a harness and winch to put the new chimney through its paces.

Leo was invited to watch as the great experiment got underway.
"Go on Santa" he shouted out as the faux Father Christmas was lifted into the air towards the chimney.
A few seconds later and Santa was successfully lowered into the chimney of the half-built house, re-emerging shortly after to deliver a hearty: "Ho Ho Ho."

"I can guarantee that this chimney is big enough for Santa and all the presents," he told Leo.
An excited Leo gave a thumbs up to the St. Nicholas impersonator and rushed to hug him.

"I'm absolutely delighted not just that Santa fitted into the chimney, but that that little boy, Leo, said to me: 'That was the best day of my life' which made the whole thing worthwhile," said Paxton.

The Park family won't be able to inhabit their new holiday home until next December, just in time to get the milk and biscuits ready for their very special Yuletide visitor.

(Reporting by Georgina Cooper, editing by Paul Casciato)

December 11, 2011

Grandma Furman's Cookies: THE RECIPE

When my maternal Great-Grandmother Rose Ferguson Furman came over from Ireland over 100 years ago, she brought this recipe with her. It wouldn't be Christmas without them, and the ritual of sitting around the table and decorating them is a tradition my siblings carried on with their children, as have I with my circle of friends... it's a much anticipated event! Even in lean years when the only gift I could afford to give was cookies, we've had them.

It's a hearty, DELICIOUS, and curious cookie. Sort of a hybrid between a spicy gingerbread and a molasses. The first year I made them by myself I was 15, and I over-baked ALL of them. I suppose it was a right of passage, and my friend Eric Freitas dubbed them Grandma Furman's Hockey Pucks!

I never knew my Grandma Furman, she passed away the year before I was born. But I can only imagine that it would tickle her to know that the recipe she passed down, the one she simply wrote "Brown Cookies" on the index card for- would be loved and enjoyed by so many people all over the country. In another century, another millennium! Thanks Rose, from all of us.


1 1/2 cups shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup robust molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
6 cups all purpose flour

Cream together shortening and sugars. Beat in eggs. Add spices and extracts, then molasses. Dissolve baking soda in water and stir in. Add the flour, one cup at a time. USE A STURDY METAL SPOON, OR MAKE IN A STAND MIXER. The 5th or 6th cup of flour will be the end of a wooden spoon!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll out grapefruit sized balls of the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Rose's daughter, my Grandmother, always said to me "Don't be afraid to roll them out nice and thick!" I like to use simple, broad shapes for my cutters. In fact, I now only make circles, diamonds, and trees. As you can see from the pictures, you get lots of decorating possibilities from 3 simple shapes! Space 1 inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. Yes, they bake quick and all ovens calibrate a little differently, so watch the first couple of trays carefully, and scope out the bottoms just to make sure. They will puff up and turn a paler shade of brown when they are close. Remove cookies promptly to cool on racks, or on brown paper bags. When cool, stack like shapes together and store in an airtight container until ready to frost. HELPFUL TIP: If they over bake (and become crunchy when cooled) throw a few slices of soft bread in the container and let them sit with the cookies overnight- that should soften them up!


These are not delicate cookies, and they should be frosted, not iced. Here's what we do...

Beat together 1 stick of room temperature butter, 1/2 lb powdered sugar with 4 tablespoons of milk. A 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla is optional. I don't like the way it messes with my colors! The consistency should be smooth and creamy, but thick. If it's too thick add a few drops of milk at a time till it "gets there". If it gets a little runny, add a little bit more powdered sugar. You get the idea. Divide amongst smaller bowels and tint to desired colors, but leave some white. The white ones are pretty too! I achieve my rich and funky colors by using a combination of liquid and paste food colors.

A basic table knife is your best tool. Place a nice sized dollop in the center of the cookie, and working from the center outwards (with just the tip of your knife) spread it towards (but not over) the edges. It should be a nice layer so the cookie doesn't show through the frosting. I find that if I leave a nice little "reveal" of brown around the edge, it has a great finished look.

Festoon with festive sugars, jimmies, and any other edible baubles you can find. Just try not to over do it. Personally I'm in it for the cookie, not a mouth full of crunchy decorations!

When the frosting has "set" (a couple of hours) store them in single layers between sheets of waxed paper, in an airtight container. If you keep them sealed up, they'll keep beautifully for a couple of weeks!

Musical Treat of The Week

I'm sure that after 3 years together you're well aware of my love for the holiday season, and especially Christmas music! Though this tender ballad by Mindy Smith came out in 2007, its new to me this year and already has a special place in my heart. Enjoy.

December 10, 2011


Holly, Jolly, and All That Jazz.

You know me. I'm the friend who's most likely to see the silver lining when you're too funky to even notice that there's clouds in the sky. I'm your go-to guy for a pep talk, your "anythings possible!" man. And trust me, I really do believe that. But life isn't always roses and rainbows (shameless Julie Budd reference, I know), and even Killer Bees get the blues. I recently had an unpleasant blip on my radar. Over the course of just 10 short days I had two friends pass away (one expected, one not) my dream vacation was ruined and had to be postponed until next year, and a prime business opportunity slipped right between the fingers of myself and my business partners.

Can I tell you that for about a solid week Burl Ives could kiss my holly, jolly ass?

With Christmas just weeks away, I was about to acquire an unprecedented case of Bah Humbugism. Yes, rosy-cheeked me who always manages to make plum pudding out of dried prunes just in time to save the holiday, was starting to think "Meh, Christmas." There's a handful of people in my life who have little time or tolerance for the exuberance of the holiday season, and manage to suffer through each year with gritted teeth and a ticking stop watch. I love them, but I'm not much interested in trying to become them. I say to the Scrooges of the world "Why are you so mad at Christmas? I mean seriously, what did Christmas ever do to you?"

A Holiday Round Table

There's been a recurring theme in discussions lately amongst myself and several friends regarding the subject of expectations vs. disappointment. In case you haven't heard, expectations lead to disappointment. This notion (and sometimes fact) is the subject of much fascination to me, and fodder for debate.

While its true that the source of much our pain is disappointment based, it is impossible to go through life with no expectations. Expectations and aspirations (and all of those other good ations) are key propellers through the journey of life. To further my point, I believe that if you expect nothing, you're usually going to get nothing. 

It is a YES universe, after all.

I guess the key is to keep them realistic...and not hold any person or situation responsible when things don't work out the way you had hoped. Including yourself. Maybe everything doesn't happen for a reason per se, but everything is exactly what it is, and exactly what it is supposed to be. Whether we like it or not. So just how mad at Christmas (or anything for that matter) are you going to be?

Hostage Crisis (averted)

Work with me for a minute , will you? I want you to think of The Universe as Santa. They're both magical, so its plausible...

I'll give you an example. There's really only one thing I want for Christmas this year, and I don't stand a snowball's chance in Hell of getting it. So does that mean I should hold Santa hostage for not fulfilling my expectations? While I'm tempted to do so, it would be truly unfair. To both of us. Besides if I'm honest this has been a year so rich, so full of blessings that to throw a tantrum at this point would only reveal what a spoiled rotten brat I am. Nope, not me. I'm leaving milk and cookies for Santa because I want more than coal in my stocking. So much more.

Its all perspective, and the one I choose to adopt is my decision too. You know what? My future's so bright I gotta wear shades. Who am I to wallow in petulance during a season of cheer when my cup is running over with it? If I practice what I preach, then my list of  things to be thankful for is pages longer than the post-it note of disappointments that one 10 day stretch brought. In fact a stretch like that can come along  simply to remind a person of everything that is shiny and bright, merry and well.

I've been making that list and checking it twice.
And you know what kids? Its all jolly good. Yes, jolly indeed.
From the bottom of my heart I'm wishing all of you and yours the very same (roses and rainbows too) this beautiful holiday season.

Be well my friends, and be jolly ~
Michael Patrick

December 4, 2011

Christmas Past

For those of you who pine for the splendor and joys of holidays past, here are the links to my holiday archives. Recipes, videos, and musings aplenty- 
Merry, merry!

Musical Treat of The Week

This Christmas, I wanna hang out at Judy's...


Returning for a 3rd year, is our very own holiday tradition here at Killer Bees Make The Most Delicious Honey! Dir. Vincent Bal / Belgium / 1996

The classic Christmas short film noir with inevitable twists and turns. Mylene and Werner are going to make their flat up for Christmas. Then Sam comes with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. Sam tells Werner that he knows Werner has stolen money at work. Werner murders Sam. Soon afterwards, Sam is alive again and it looks as if somebody else would have to die. Who's fooling who? Winner of the Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.


Does your best holiday cookie recipe hold rank with our 2009 winner Helen McGreevey's
Glazed Fruitcake Drops?

OR can  it hang-delicious with Bryon Stewart's 2010 winning entry
Chocolate Spice Cookies?

Well here's your chance to find out!

Send your recipes (pictures aren't necessary) to me at m.mckinley@rocketmail.com
Entries must be received no later than Saturday December 17th.
Once again the winner will receive a $40 gift certificate to Penzey's Spices that can be redeemed in any Penzey's retail outlet, or on their website.

Come on now, don't be shy... The oven's on and The Bees are ready to nosh!

December 3, 2011

HOLIDAYS by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;--
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;--a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream. 


Are you intimidated by homemade pie crust? I know I was, for years... and trust, I'm no slouch in the kitchen! Well its been many years now since my I set my flaky inhibitions free, and I've never looked back. Now OF COURSE its easier to open a box and unfurl a ready-made crust into a pie plate. Believe me, there's absolutely no comparison in flavor, texture, or oral ecstasy. Its so worth it Beezers!

In the first video Stacey shares a simple but showy blueberry nectarine gallette that will  impress your holiday guests anytime of the year! In the second, he removes the mystery shrouding the perfect pie crust. Enjoy!

November 17, 2011

Pass On The Turkey

I truly have the most amazing friends in the world...

In the 23 years since I left home, I can count on 4 fingers the years I didn't host and cook Thanksgiving dinner. One year I had 22 people and served in 2 shifts. It's my signature dinner, and I could prepare it with one eye closed and a missing leg. Under anesthesia. Anyone who's attended one of these superlative feasts will tell you its the best damn Turkey dinner they've ever had, and that my green bean casserole creams the competition. Sorry Mom, even yours.

Friends are the family you acquire after you grow up, especially if you never marry. Or marry and divorce. Two or three times, for all intents and purposes... It is this family I speak of that has populated the dinner table for all of these feasts. One of my favorite traditions was born on Thanksgiving, in my first apartment on Martin Drive. Each year everyone writes down what they're thankful for and slips the note into an urn I keep on the mantle, and no my Mother isn't in there. She's at my sister's house. On her mantle. Anyway after dinner but during pie, Cherrie reads the slices of gratitude aloud. Inevitably, someones sister has survived cancer, or a son has returned home from the war. We all get a little misty. Me? I always seem to be thankful for the same thing. A houseful of friends, of family.

For my 40th birthday, Jeffrey offered to take me to Europe for the first time. He's been a slew of times and decided that not only did I need a vacation, but that I needed a VACATION! He suggested the last week of November, and at first I didn't even think about it being over Thanksgiving. When it dawned on me that I wouldn't be around to put on the spread, did I suddenly grow sullen and nostalgic for the 20+ years of tradition and camaraderie? Um, no. I'm like bitches please, the brine recipe is in the archives. I have a plane to catch! Smooches.

Always the type to be prepared for spontaneous international travel, my first passport expired after 10 years without a single stamp in it. The second one was stolen in Indonesia with a (fresh) stamp from there, and one from Japan. It was a trip for work, but an adventure nonetheless. Hence stolen. Its replacement has been patiently waiting in the top drawer of my nightstand (sandwiched between The Power of Now and certain unmentionables) for 4 years waiting its turn at customs.As you can imagine my excitement has been palpable.

So then what does one do when their travel partner is suddenly (and unfortunately) unable to travel abroad? Well, when its Jeffrey you say yes when he insists that you go anyway. Because he loves you, and knows you need it desperately. So this Thanksgiving I'll be in London,  preparing a very different kind of dinner, for my wonderful new British friends. William is a vegetarian, so no turkey. I've also discovered that certain key ingredients for a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner are exotic across the pond, so I've crafted a menu that's a deconstructed version with nods to the key flavors, sans the bird of course. And I'm packing my Penzeys. If you know you know, and if you don't, then Google it.

My life was very different a year ago at this time. Last Thanksgiving was one of the ones I can count on the 4 fingers. Time heals many things, and honest gratitude manifests more things to be thankful for. Remember that. I personally don't know at this point how I could ever forget, for the power of gratitude has proven magical in my life. Someday, I'll tell you all about it.

In the meantime I have a suitcase to pack, squash to roast, and a plane to catch!
Did I mention that I have the most amazing friends... in the world?
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.

An Evening With Phoebe Snow!

I had known Poetry Man my entire life before my friend Jeffrey Elliott introduced me to the rest of Phoebe Snow's musical legacy . It was love at first listen. Her intriguing voice and artistry was matched by an equally intriguing backstory. The world lost a true talent when Phoebe passed away on April 26th of this year, a mere 60 years old.

This Saturday the 19th of November, Jeffrey is producing "AN EVENING WITH PHOEBE SNOW"  at Davenports in Chicago. It promises to be a a very special evening and program, and will feature the magnificent talents of Julia Merchant, Becky Menzie, Laura Freeman, and my favorite Chicago Chanteuse Ms. Alma Mendoza. I can hardly wait.

For more info on the show follow the link: http://davenportspianobar.com/
Look for me in the audience, swaying to the beautiful sounds...you can buy me a drink.

And the next time you see Jeffrey, be sure to ask him about the Kimono he made for Phoebe, its a really great story.

CBS Sunday Morning, 2008

Germany, 1989

November 5, 2011

Hey Old Friends!

Okay, I'll admit it.
My big splash back into the deep end of the blogosphere went down more like a belly flop.

I honestly thought I'd be able to carve out a little more time for y'all...and yes that was ambitious. Excuses aside here's some more....and I do encourage you to keep checking back in because we're going places, you and me. And trust me, you'll want to be along for the ride. If we don't see eachother again before Thanksgiving ushers in the madness of the Season, then I promise it will be shortly after. And we'll get all caught up. Just like old friends.

Michael Patrick

How Do You Makeover Perfection?

That's what Killer Bee fan Dan Sylvester said on Facebook the other day when I posted this teaser pic for Cassandra's website. It's getting a sexy makeover by fierce web designer, newlywed, and honorary Bee Cindy Malin, and will feature all new photography by Doug Krimmer. We hope to have it up by Thanksgiving, so stay tuned! Meanwhile her hit show Real Milwaukee remains a ratings champ, and Season 4 of Cassandra McShepard Television on Youtube will wrap up when we upload the final installment of This Is What I Know So Far next week. 

What's next? A special motivational CD/DVD package arrives in March...and filming for Season 5 will commence filming in early February.  This Bee just keeps on buzzing!

Make All My Dreams Come True

Schlemeel, schlemazel...

I was 20 years old and my hair was past my shoulders, inching its way down my back. A glorious crown of ringlets I'd spent 2 frustrating years growing out. It is a cruel trick that nature plays on vanity. These days I just have hair on my shoulders and back. How quickly I digress. And how time flies by!

I'm talking about the day I left West Hollywood and my home state of California to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ask any of my friends from that crazy scene I left behind, and they would tell you they were certain I was moving to the dead center of a cornfield with nothing but a mere transistor radio to keep me company on a frigid Winter's eve. Winter of course was something they had seen in movies, but was difficult to wrap the brain around.

Actually, I boarded a train with exactly 15 medium sized boxes, mostly filled with clothes and keepsakes. Stacey and I had sold off our furnishings when we vacated our apartment, and things like dishes, pots, and pans had been packed up and locked in a dry storage unit for when he rented his next place. What I'm trying to say is that I arrived with nothing...but my have I acquired a few things since then.

That day was September 29th, 1991. I remember very clearly my Mother driving me to the bus station in Santa Maria. I'd spent the week with her, but needed to hurry back to Los Angeles to make my evening train. We stood outside the door of the bus and assured each other that tears weren't necessary. I gave her a big hug and bravely climbed aboard. I stowed my satchel over head and settled into my seat. As the driver began pulling out from the station I looked out the window and down into my Mother's car as we passed her. Her face was buried in her hands, she was sobbing. She knew I wouldn't be coming back, and of course I didn't. I cried all the way to Santa Barbara.

Enter Lenny and Squiggy.

I've been feeling rather nostalgic over the last few weeks. I knew this 20 year milestone was coming up, but it only recently occurred to me that since I  turned 40 in May, I've been here half my life now. Holy crap. I also realized that while I may have been born and raised in the Golden State, I grew up in Wisconsin. One does not come into his or herself without the aid of triumph and tragedy, and certainly friends and loved ones. 

Over the past 20 years I haven't been home to visit my family nearly enough. The people who have stepped in and created my surrogate family are a colorful and diverse cast of characters. Over the next several months, I'd like for you to meet them through a series of pieces I've started writing, which will arrive here as I finish them.

For those of you who have found this blog more recently, its the outgrowth of a book that I had planned to write about my journey and those characters. It was to be called Killer Bees Make The Most Delicious Honey. Perhaps sharing these stories now will be the impetus to start putting that volume together. Or maybe I'll get consumed by other projects and 3 more years will go by. We'll see. 

I marvel sometimes at the journey. So little of it has been as I thought it would be, and yet I know in my heart that everything is exactly what it should have been. I've done it my way, yes my way...making my dreams come true....for me and you. So what's next?

Buzz Out!

Buzz Out!