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

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!