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 18, 2011

Kiss My Grits

September 9, 2011

My Old Keyboard

One night just after Christmas, my friend John Roberts stopped by the shop to see me. John lives in Illinois and we don't get to see each other very often, but when we do its as if no time has passed. Its that kind of friendship.

There was some chilled-mulled wine (waste not, want not) in the fridge so we shared a cup of cheer and proceeded to fill one another in on the skinny. He was very complimentary on the accomplishments of The Bees, and asked what I saw ahead for us. I looked at him through the eyes of bewilderment and exhaustion and told him frankly that I didn't think I could keep up much longer. The pressure of pursuing so many artistic ventures (none of which were producing any kind of viable means in which to live upon) was finally wearing me down...and out. I was clearly doing too many things, and doing none of them too well.

John's a very successful business man, and I trust both his instincts and sincerity. In a nutshell he told me "Michael time is always money. Even if your not making any right now,  you need to invest your time in your most viable options. You're going to have to give something up." It sounded like simple and perfect logic to me, but seriously. Give up what?!

I decided the first thing that needed rethinking was this blog and how much energy it took to keep up with. I had been on a mission to "pollinate the good stuff" for 2 years, but was now strongly considering doing away with it all together. It was kind of a Sophie's Choice moment. I had been planning for several months to launch a sequel blog that was all about interior design, called Interior Motives. I'd been pre-planning video features and drafting articles for it for a couple of months. I wanted it to be oh-so slick when I unveiled it. Now I just needed to bury it. Its not always  easy to be an artist and think like a business man.

Next on the agenda. I decided that I would approach this blog like a magazine and publish once monthly. Perhaps even bi-monthly. Regardless of how I decided to move forward, I needed a break.

When I decided to take that 6 week break back in January, I honestly never thought I'd be away for 8 months. In the time that has passed, its not as if I stopped pollinating. Stacey and I filmed and edited 8 new cooking segments for STACEY'S HOT DISH, and I filmed a whole new season of THIS IS WHAT I KNOW SO FAR with Cassandra. I also conceived and installed two of the coolest interior design projects of my career with my design buddy Marilynn Dal Porto, and created a series of commissioned paintings for another design installation. And got paid, thank you. For the first time in awhile..thanks for the advice John. You can manage my portfolio. As soon as I have one.

I recently received a couple of lovely comments on postings that had been lingering on the front page since January. I'm always blown away when someone finds this random space on the Internet and is then moved enough about what they've seen or read here to send me a kind message or compliment. These two were particularly interesting because they both spoke directly to my absence, and were encouraging  me to continue the project that I had started so passionately 2 and half years ago. Those messages were a major shot in the arm, for sure. It was clearly time to begin again. Besides. I missed you.

I'm still very passionate about the stories and ideas that I present here, and I'm excited to once again be behind my old keyboard. I hope that this new batch of  both personal and pollinated pieces is as enjoyable for you to digest as is was for me to cook up for you. That's how you know I love you, ya know. I start cooking.

Sex & The Modern Man

A very good friend of mine is having a sexual renaissance. And no, "friend" is not code for me.

The infamous McKinley libido is both a blessing and a curse. On the upside, its doubtful that I'll ever tire of wanting, craving it. On the downside, Its doubtful that I'll ever stop wanting, craving it.

Recently when listening to the Eurythmics classic Missionary Man, the lyrics "...and if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done, there'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin." rang out like a soliloquy for my sexually adventurous past. A mountain...as in McKinley. I've always believed that sex is a perfectly acceptable contact sport for single people. And I have played the court accordingly, mind you. Match set.

Back to said friend.

He jokingly asides "Don't judge me!" just before he commences divulging his recent adventures. The 'regulars', the Grindr hook-ups. The friends with benefits. Its all terribly scintillating, and for a moment I think to myself "You're single, why aren't you getting laid?" After all Michael likes sex. A lot. I contemplate base jealousy. Then I think better of it. Excited for him in his endeavors of pleasure perhaps, but jealous? No. In this technology driven world we live in, its never been easier for a person singular to have all the NSA (that would be 'no strings attached' for all of you puritanical folk) fun they can muster the stamina for. Truth be told, its not that difficult to get laid, if its laid that you wanna get.

I'll admit there's a desire within to transcend all of the bullshit and trappings that come with sex as a single person. It seems that with age, many of my friends have removed the shackles binding sex and romantic love. However I'm finding that as I grow older, the connection between heart, brain, and penis grows even more succinct.
I can tell you honestly these emotions are not colored by any religious or societal pressures.Yet sharing the vessel that contains my soul seems like a trickier proposition than it used to be. Is this a function of maturation, emotional preservation, or is it spiritual growth? Where am I going with all of this? I'm not entirely sure, because I'm so horny. I just know that these days, before I give you a piece of this, its pretty much a sure bet that you're going to care about this. Because I do.

Can a modern gay man strike balance between enlightenment and sexual liberation? I'll try not to trip on the underwear around my ankles and let you know how it all plays out.


When my friend Miguel Agosto Campos shared these wonderful videos on Facebook several weeks ago I was instantly moved, and knew I wanted to share them with you here. Created by STA Travel Australia as commercials for television and the Internet, these 1 minute advertisements are a delight. Though conceived as a tantalizing tool to tempt you into travel, I was left with a more practical notion after viewing them...

You needn't travel the world to learn, eat, move...or EXPERIENCE your world.

What are you waiting for? 

September 8, 2011

Are YOU Willing?

"A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for." ~William Shedd

 Media would have you believe that just leaving the house everyday puts you at tremendous risk, at least seven ways from Sunday. Much of this sensationalized, spoon fed propaganda is designed to keep you closely tuned in, and in some cases out. But where there's smoke there's fire, and life is risky business.

We drive on freeways where people are texting with one hand on the steering wheel, and we fly on airplanes that may or may not be going up or coming down at the pilot's guidance. We (some of us begrudgingly) trust the doctor's orders, our water supply, our government regulated food chain, and our elected officials.We smoke cigarettes, drink booze, and statistically allot of us are still doing drugs. After sending our children into schools that have become war zones, we consent to wars for them to fight in. We trade the stock market and go under the knife for vanity's sake without blinking our botox-frozen eyes. Is your cell phone microwaving your brain? Don't be so sure it isn't.

All of these things involve a tremendous amount of risk, and yet we seemingly take them without caution. Or much of it anyway. So why are so many of us reticent to take a risk and love? We're afraid to love our neighbors who are in some way different than us. They're a different color. Practice a different religion. No religion. Make less money than us, more money than us. They vote red, they vote blue. They're trying to ruin your life because they don't see things the way you do. How could you love them?

Our hearts have been crushed by friends, parents, lovers, and life's disappointments. Or have they? Whenever we are faced with pain, we have the capacity to decide how deeply we let it scar us. We have control over our level of devastation, and we decide how much we're willing to risk next time.

But is that why is love so scary? Because our hearts might get crushed? I'll admit that I too have been afraid to risk my heart. I've suffered the disappointment of  love affairs ending, the betrayal of  friends, and the judgement of strangers. More than once, trust me. Cassandra says "Broken hearts hurt like hell, but they don't kill you."  

I say that the heart isn't nearly as fragile as the ego would lead you to believe.

I love this quote from Stephen Colbert: "If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition — and then admit that we just don’t want to do it." That's us alright. One nation, under God... busted.

Love your brother, your neighbor, the one you're with.
And certainly if someone is willing to extend the gift of love your way, don't deny it.

Idealistic and cliche as its sounds, love really is the only thing that can transform, heal our hurting world. It won't be money, politicians, or organized religion. Historically those are the 3 things that divide us. No, it will be YOU. However this transfomative movement will require you to take a risk.  Perhaps several. Are you willing? Real risk takes courage.

Don't be a wuss, and for crying out loud don't be stingy!
If there's one thing you should be putting it on the line for, its always love.


The Killer Bee Club: TOM SHADYAC

The shift is about to hit the fan. 

We are far grander than we've been told.

Its an interesting idea. A powerful film. A brilliant filmmaker.
Ladies and gentleman meet the newest member of THE KILLER BEE CLUB,  Mr. Tom Shadyac...

For more on this amazing film and its creator, visit:

An excerpt from Tom's blog...

Shining Like the Sun!

Everyday, we are assaulted with messages, images, slogans, and sound bites, that tell us of our inadequacies, the sad state of affairs that is you and me:  “With this product, you can lose weight, with this one, you can gain muscle; if your breasts sag, our bra lifts them up; if you have wrinkles, this cream irons them out; if you’re sad, we have a pill that will make you happy; if you’re too happy, we have a pill that will bring you down; if you’re not as much of a man as you used to be, this pill will straighten you out (literally!).  And everyone who’s anyone has itunes, the iphone, and the ipad, am iclear?

And we participate in this maddening chatter unaware, telling our kids that in order to succeed they have to get the best grades, get into the right school, and get the right job.  We tell them that one day they must stop all this horsing around and get serious with their lives; we ask them who they are going to be when they grow up, warning them that life is all down hill after 22, declaring college the best four years of their lives; and finally, if they are lucky, they just might make something of themselves in this dog eat dog world.  It’s enough to stress you out completely – but of course there’s a pill that can fix that, too.

Is this how life really is?  Is our identity simply conditional and fragile?  Is who we are really defined by the things we own, our job status, and the social circles we run in?

The mystics, those saints and sages who saw through to the inner workings of reality, proclaimed something very different.   A little background here:  The word “mystic” comes from the Latin word, “mysterium”, from which we also get the word, mystery.  Thus, a mystic is one who sees into the mystery.  So what exactly did the mystics see?  And what does their vision of reality reveal about who and what we are?

Here’s what Thomas Merton said, after decades of meditation and contemplation:  “As if the sorrows and stupidities of the world could overwhelm me now that I realize what we all are.  I wish everyone could realize this, but there is no way of telling people they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
Shining like the sun.  That’s you.  He didn’t say, shining like the sun after you can afford the new electric Chevy Volt.  He didn’t say, shining like the sun after your bust gets lifted.  What he said was, right now, in this moment, with all of your imperfections, with all of your challenges in the temporal, with all of your worldly failures and successes, you are walking around shining like the sun!

Merton goes one step further with this concluding insight: “I am finally coming to the realization that my greatest ambition is to be what I already am.” Wait a minute.  What about worldly status and success and power?  Merton saw through all of that, and invites us to do the same.  Can you imagine?  What a lesson to embrace, to embody and even, to teach; to declare to our kids they don’t have to be someone, they already are someone.   Now the cynic will undoubtedly rise up and warn that this will poison our youth; they will be so inflated with their own identity, they will surely sit back and do nothing.  Quite the opposite is true.  This knowledge compels those it touches, Jesus, Gandhi, St. Francis, Mother Theresa, Rumi, and Hafiz, to walk with power, to use their talents for the good of all, without the drag of invented pressure to measure up to some arbitrary social standard.

You see, (and it is a matter of sight!), what we are telling ourselves, the command to succeed and be someone, is just a story; it’s a story based on expectations.   It’s temporal and finite.  It is not who you really are.  The Sufi mystic, Meera, wisely said: “You cannot play your role in time, until you know who you are in eternity.” And who you are is a drop in the ocean of divinity.  Inside you is starlight.  Inside you is the same infinite energy that created the universe.  As the modern mystic, Irwin Kula, knew, “Everything is god in drag.”

So the next time you’re told you need to be somebody, rest in the knowledge that you already are.  Hafiz implores us to wake up to this truth when he says: “I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” Now what iphone or ipad, what present day pill or product can deliver that?

September 7, 2011



September 6, 2011

Choir Practice

Originally posted on February 7th, 2009

I come from a very musical family. My mother played piano beautifully, and my father was a DJ in the Navy. My brother, brother-in-law, and 3 of my nephews all play guitar and sing. My niece Maria has a beautiful voice, and has had the opportunity to travel to Europe with her choir.

So it should come as no surprise that by age 9 I was belting-out little numbers around the house at the top of my lungs. When I was in the 4th grade there was an announcement in the school newsletter that there would be auditions held for The Children's Honor Choir. I raced home from school that day, eager to tell my Mother that I wanted to audition. Her response was not what I had hoped. She gently replied "Honey I'm not sure singing is something you're good at. You're such a ham, you should try out for a play instead." Now before you grow angry with her, I can honestly say I believe she was trying to spare me the pain of rejection. And, in her defense, she did offer up an alternative. But it mattered not. I was going to SING! And prove her wrong...

I devised a plan. Auditions were being held at our local community college, Hancock, at 2:00 in the afternoon. If you were going to audition, you had to take a 1/2 day at school. So when we were let outside for our lunch recess, I quietly slipped away from campus... and began my on-foot, cross-town trek to Hancock College. I'm not even sure that I knew exactly how to get there, but I was determined and I arrived in time to audition. Albeit a little tired and sweaty.

When I got home  my Mother was moments from calling the police... and smoking from the ears. Turns out that when I didn't return from recess, the school called her at work.

Gee, I hadn't counted on that. Given the choice to explain myself immediately, or face the probability of not being able to sit down for a week, I told her what I had done-  and that my audition had secured me a place in  The Children's Honor Choir! Still not convinced that I could actually sing, but impressed by my iron-clad will, she signed the permission slip that I needed to join. Then she grounded me until choir practice commenced.

I sang with the choir for 2 years, and my Mother attended every performance. And yet, she remained my most unconvinced critic. When I'd explain to her that I would someday make enough money singing to take good care of her, she'd say something like "Honey, I know you love singing, but I really think you should take up acting. Do you want to take acting lessons? I don't know how we'll afford it, but if you want to take acting lessons, we'll look into it."

Of course I had no interest in acting. I was going to be an international pop sensation! But as I grew older, the doubt started to creep in. Maybe my Mother knew something I didn't? Therefor in the past 25 years, these are the efforts I've made to pursue my dream of a singing career:

  • In 1988 I purchased a copy of the book "How To Make And Sell Your Own Record".

  • I recorded a disastrous little demo while living in L.A., somewhere around 1990, which has since been destroyed.
  • In the mid-90's, I studied with a vocal coach in Milwaukee, who was very encouraging, and seemed to think I possessed talent. But I stopped seeing him when he started pressuring me to audition for a musical he was directing. Me on stage? NO WAY!

  • One night in 2003, after several cocktails, I nailed "Sam You Made The Pants Too Long" at some karaoke bar in Chicago.
As a rule, fear has never ruled my life. Yet at some point I let my fear of performing become so inflated that I prevented myself from doing the one thing I wanted most to do. What is that fear anyway? Fear of imperfection? Fear of judgement? I fear for me, it's both. What happened to the determined little boy who found his way clear across town to audition? As adults we're conditioned to be pragmatic, embrace the practical. To dismiss the lofty daydreams of our childhoods. But as I approach 40, I'm still asking myself "What if I had made the effort"? I never even tried....

    I've been very inspired recently by several people, who are pursuing artistic sides of themselves that they either buried years ago, or didn't know they possessed. I myself, am frequently telling people to pursue what they love, and they will find success. So while at this point it seems unlikely that I'll become an international pop sensation, I do believe that it's not too late to practice what I preach. Scales from the top?

    Lordy, Lordy. Michael's 40!

    I don't know if you all remember last year's monthly saga 16 to 40, where each month on the countdown to my big 4-OH! I posted a piece about my grappling with the ominous benchmark...? It was sort of a bucket list for reaching the top of the hill. Well that little vanity project burned out on my blog about the same time I did.

    I did have the last 5 installments more or less pre-planned in my head when I stopped posting here some 8 months ago. #3 of 16: "Here's to Life" never saw the light of day... but in it I was going to share with you what had seemed inconceivable to me for so long. Though it became an abbreviated version of what I had initially intended it to be,  I did actually post this little moment of courage on Youtube, on my actual 40th. This may not have been filmed in front of an audience, but it's a start kids. It's a start...

    Buzz Out!

    Buzz Out!