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

June 30, 2012

The R&R Report: MERC HAUS!

Remember when you were a kid, and that unmistakable dread would overcome you on Sunday evening if you hadn't done the homework that was due on Monday morning? Well I feel like a big, lousy slouch for letting the whole R&R Report thing slip away from regular importance. I may skip school tomorrow.

For the first couple of years at KBMTMDH , the R&R Report features were something I was rather passionate about. I suppose the problem is that Michael is passionate about too many things...Focus honey, focus!

Back to your regularly scheduled R&R Report.

Singer -Songwriter and Honorary Killer Bee Ron Morris and his husband of 10 years The Lovely Mr. Ken Jones Jr., have fashioned for themselves and their patrons the kind of retail experience that I adore and admire so. There are days when I walk into my own shop and think to myself  "I wanna blow this pop stand and go work for Ron and Ken in Easton!" If you're a regular at Milwaukee Design Collection, then you should know that I borrowed (OK, stole) the whole "Suddenly Special" idea from these guys. With kind permission from Ron, of course. And if  Mercantile Home and the fine folks of Easton, PA sound familiar to you my dear bleaders, it's because they've been mentioned here before...

There are those who work for others and those who work for themselves, and this is the natural order of things. When I was a kid growing up, I always knew I'd work for myself. It's how I'm wired. Have you ever had an entrepreneurial dream? I guess this particular R&R Report is so special because the Mercantile Home Story is one that truly inspires. Be sure to read it for yourselves...and BEE inspired!

I bow to those who dare to turn their dreams into reality and forge a living in doing so. And also, anyone who knows their way around a sewing machine! I can't even thread a needle. The uber-talented artisans behind everything you can see (and buy) at Mercantile Home are Killer Bees indeed. Be sure to visit their website - they ship those foxy, ingenious wares anywhere! Someone special just might be getting a Merc Haus Pet from me for Christmas... What? It's only 6 months away!

Since a picture tells a story far better than I, I will leave you with the  following clip (It's a portrait, really.) from the shop's fantastically entertaining video diary. You can spy all of the other episodes on their VIMEO page. I'm simultaneously writing my Dear Karen letter.

Remember Beezers,  keep on pollinating!

The Painter

Once the paint hits the canvas there's no turning back.
And I'm totally cool with that.

I was recently joking with a friend about my "process".

I always have a color palette in mind, and typically some notion about the subject matter and or movement/style. However before I begin any piece, I surrender. To the moment, to the energy. Don't get me wrong. I do have a say in the finished product, but I truly let each piece evolve...become it's own entity.

It kind of goes down like this. I'm really excited by the first few applications of paint...it's a total rush and I already know it's gonna be good. Then something goes down...not like I think it should be, and I'm devastated. I hate it. I try to fix it and I make it worse. Now it's ruined! Calm down Dramatica. Because without fail, just when I think it's all been lost, I'm directed to make another move which turns the whole hot mess around. I love it again. The piece always let me know when it's finished. I sign it on the back and it goes out into the world. 

I recently finished a commissioned piece that I truly struggled with.

Even as I was installing this one, I wasn't at all sure that I liked it. When the client saw it he flipped out. Absolutely loved it. I realized in that moment that I hadn't painted this one for me...it had come through me for him. It's not always about you, Michael!

Over the years I've given away as many pieces as I've sold. My most favorite piece now resides is England, a birthday gift. If I had the luxury of time and more importantly unlimited resources, I would paint all the time....and I would give them all away. Honest! Yes, it's thrilling to sell one-  but it's even more gratifying to surprise someone with a piece they've had their eye on. To see my paintings installed and living with people humbles me in a way I honestly don't have words to articulate.

When I started painting 6 years ago, I was moved to do so by the suggestion of my nocturnal dreams. It had never even occurred to me that there was that kind of an artist dwelling inside of me. I am so grateful for this and all gifts...and that I listened...and set him free.

Happy Client!    "After My Own Heart"  18x54 Acrylic on Canvas 2012
"Concentric Chaos'"  36x104 Acryllic on Canvas 2012

"Square Biz"   48x48 Acrylic on Canvas 2012

"Seasons on The River"   18x96 Acrylic on Canvas 2011

June 29, 2012

The Summer Knows

Summer in Wisconsin is synonymous with Summerfest...

When the Winters are long, cold, and dark, folks tend to maximize their warm weather days by frolicking at any number of the exciting and expertly executed festivals that take place on Milwaukee's gorgeous lakefront.

Celebrating it's 45th year, SUMMERFEST will host 700 bands on 11 stages over 11 days. Can you imagine we have this amazing event right here in our very own backyard? I've said it often and I'll say it again. The natives have no idea how fortunate they are. Just ask the boy from California.

I haven't been myself in many years, (I know, I know- for shame!) but I'll be going with a gaggle of good friends this Sunday to see Robyn on The Miller Stage. I know you're jealous. I don't condone it, but I understand it.

Cassandra and the rest of the Real Milwaukee crew did their first-ever remote broadcast LIVE from the festival grounds on Wednesday. It was fun to see them outside of the studio, and Casandra shared her favorite Summerfest memory about her day as a Dreamsicle, and the dashed hopes of ever becoming Tito's bride...

MILWAUKEE~ A great place, on a great lake!

June 27, 2012

Musical Treat Of The Week

Can't. Get Enough. Robyn.

June 23, 2012

Dance, If You Want To...

Hey Mr. DJ!

I'm not a very good dancer.
Oh, I can get out there and shake my groove thang, but please don't ask me to waltz. My brother is the dancer. I'm all left feet.

Cherrie has insisted it's because I have a mental blockage. I think I'm uncoordinated, so therefore I am. She may be correct, or at the very least onto something game changing...

Dreamer, risk taker, all around fearless dude. I've been told by some that's how people see me. The reality is most of time I'm nothing but a big fat coward. You see it only looks like I'm dancing. I'm really just shaking my ass. Opportunities to try something new, to grow myself, pass me by every day. It's true.

I've been feeling a desire, more of a knowing really, for quite awhile that it's time for me to step into a new pair of shoes. Here's the bunion. There's something that's standing between what it is I KNOW, and actually getting it done- and it's me. It's my insecurities. I'm afraid to really dance. I can blame the DJ all I want; wallflowers have terrific excuses for spending their lives off the floor.

When you put yourself upon a stage, you open yourself up for criticism. For failure, for embarrassment, for your flaws to be exposed. Why you might as well be naked up there! Here's the thing though. I don't believe this new adventure will require a spotlight on me per se, but it's going to require me to embrace a new maturity. To drive a dream this big requires a responsible person behind the wheel. I think for me to finally grow into the person I'm supposed to be, I may have to finally grow up.

I have suspected for some time now this couldn't be avoided.

Prince once lyricised (New word, like it?) "You can dance if you want to. All the critics love you, in New York." If we (and by we I really mean me) were to adopt and apply this philosophy, then New York is the world, and it wouldn't matter if we were singing and dancing while spinning on our heads playing the ukelele, right? Why would you walk through life when you can dance instead? You could get hit by a bus tomorrow for crying out loud! Cliche? I guarantee you someone, somewhere is gonna get hit by a bus today. And die. Cassandra always says "If you woke up this morning, there's still time." I'm inclined to believe her. I'd rather do this thing while I still  have the use of my feet, thank you.

My new shoes will give me better posture...and shall be made for dancing.

Whatcha doin' on your butt?

"Quote, Unquote" #11: Kate on Changing

"We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers - but never blame yourself. It's never your fault. But it's always your fault, because if you wanted to change you're the one who has got to change."

- Katharine Hepburn

June 16, 2012


You've been on my mind allot lately.
The cottage hasn't been available for the last 2 Summers, but Cherrie and I are heading up to Waupaca in August. I'll watch for you on the water...
Love, Schnickelfritz


Originally posted on March 11th, 2010

My Father loved to fish. No, I mean he really loved to fish.

My folks split when I was 3, and I don't ever remember him living at home. When I was 5 he left California and moved back to Wisconsin where he and my Mother were from. From that point forward, I only saw him during the Summers, and it was over those summers that my father taught me how to fish. I never really loved it the way he did, but I loved spending the time with him, and I learned to love the peace and serenity of the experience. He'd wake me up at 4:30 in the morning so that we could be at the lake before sunrise. We'd load up the trunk of the car with our fishing gear, and coolers containing sandwiches and cans of Pepsi. Dad was a Pepsi guy.

We'd fight our way through the swarms of mosquitoes that would fog the air in the moments just before dawn, and if we timed it just right, we'd be gliding into the middle of the lake just as the sun poked it's nose over the horizon.We had a "gentleman's agreement". I would bait my hook and catch the fish, but he had to take them off and clean them. It worked. I'm sure deep inside he wished that I would man-up and do it myself, instead of yelling "Gross!" and running away like a little sissy-boy. But he never said anything. He in his quiet way, allowed me to be the little person that I was.

I was certainly a different kind of son than my brother Gordon, who is 14 years my senior, and Dad really wasn't sure what to make of or do with me. Interestingly, for all the gaps in our alien relationship, I never had to wonder if he loved me. He really didn't understand me at all, but he loved me anyway and I knew it. A lot of kids don't get that, I'm grateful I did. Even if that understanding was in many ways, marginal.

Dad was a man's man. President of his Senior Class. He was keen on, and excelled at many sports, loved hunting as well as fishing, served in the Navy, and always cried during the national anthem. In fact I saw my Father cry on many occasions. I suppose that's where my brother and I get the propensity for waterworks.

He was charming, handsome, and had more friends than he could count- until he pushed most of them away. He was the life of the party, loved to tell jokes and was good at it too. I remember the jokes. "Why are Dolly Parton's feet so small?" "Because nothing grows well in the shade." When he was content there was a twinkle in his hazel eyes that endeared you to him, and when he was in pain there was a profound sorrow there, you understood couldn't be fixed.

He was an alcoholic who was prone to gamble, and had two failed marriages. He loved to garden with my stepmother Muriel, and made a mean Boiled Dinner. And the best BBQ ever. Some of these things I remember, but most of it I learned from other people. You see, our Summer's were brief, and the time we spent on a boat in the middle of the lake, was quiet time. It's funny. I loved him too, and yet I never really knew him.

When I was 18 he had 3 strokes in 2 days. He'd already suffered a myriad of health catastrophes, including several heart attacks and arterial sclerosis. The strokes left him unable to speak, and with the exception of a short period of time that he managed with a walker, he didn't walk for the last 6 years of his life. He spent those last years in a Veteran's home where they took exceptionally good care of him, and once in a while his fishing buddies would come and get him for the afternoon. Somehow they'd manage to get him into the boat, and take him fishing. Fisherman are a resilient lot.

He's buried at the veterans cemetery in King, Wisconsin on a chain of lakes there. He'd like that very much. By pure coincidence, my dear friend Cherrie vacationed on that same chain of lakes as a little girl with her family, and it was the place in this world most precious to her father. I honestly didn't realize that first year we rented a cottage up there, that we were only minutes from where my father was buried. That was 7 years ago now, and every year I say to Cherrie "Hey lets go have lunch with my Dad. We'll pack a big lunch and make a picnic out of it."

We have the best of intentions,we do, but we never make it there. Some people may think its odd that I don't ever feel guilty about that, but I don't. Maybe it's because I know he's not there. That's only where the remains of his body lie. His spirit on the other hand, is with me all week long. In the whispering pines, in the coo of the barred owl who echoes across the woods "Who cooks for you?", and in the tranquility of the glassine lake. Especially at night.

Cherrie and I will run from the cottage, through the swarms of mosquitoes that fog the air in the moments just before sunset, down to the lake and hop in our canoe, so that we can be right in the middle of the water when the sky goes from blood-orange to pitch black. As we glide across the tree-rimmed, marl bottomed lake, I swear that at any given moment I can catch a glimpse of him on his boat. He's got his fishing hat on, his pole is in the water, and a Pepsi is resting next to him on the seat.

It is still and peaceful, and it is so very good to see him.

June 9, 2012

Monsters & Gardens

Certainly my garden is fertile because I grew up in your neighborhood.
Thank you, Fred Rogers.

June 7, 2012

Constant Crows

Matt Alber is a singer songwriter gifted beyond measure, and a true sweetheart. I've had the chance to meet him in person a few times now, and whenever I do I'm at a loss for much to say except "Thank you for singing my heart." I suppose that's because I too possess 'a high propensity for making poetry out of every shooting star...'

He always says "I wanna be a Killer Bee!", and I always say "Matt you are a Killer Bee." Then I go find a polite corner and dissolve into a puddle.

Back when I featured a review of his first full length album "Hide Nothing", this blog was barely a week old. The disc had just come out and I was thoroughly enchanted by it. Since then I've moved twice, Cassandra's become a television star, and Matt's now living on an island off the Pacific Northwest Coast- high on love and the release of his latest collection of lullabies for grown folks. SHAME on me for taking so long to give his gorgeous sophomore release "Constant Crows" a proper plug!

Rather than review it, I will simply encourage you to visit his website. There you can preview the whole, glorious thing in it's entirety- and then purchase it of course!

"Quote, Unquote" #10: Love Lesson

Thank YOU, Phillip Spooner

This blog has never been, and never will be a forum for politics.

At the same time, this isn't a gay blog. And it it won't ever be that either. My homosexuality is but a mere component in the totality of me. However this blogmaster happens to be gay, and June is Gay Pride Month...and my LGBT brothers and sisters are in crisis mode once again.

Politics, especially in this current climate, are ego driven and divisive. There are thousands upon thousands (literally) of blogs out there where you can find content to get righteous about (either way your pendulum swings)- but it won't be here! I really don't have the spiritual constitution for the rhetoric anymore. I do my homework and I vote my conscience. If it's a debate you want you'll have to engage someone who needs to be in a superior position.

It doesn't really matter what your religious or political views are when it comes to equal rights. There's supposed to be separation of church and state in this country. If your reasons for continuing to fight my rights are religion-based, that fact alone should settle the debate. And yet sadly it doesn't.

I have many straight friends (and a few gay ones too) who vote differently than I do. Of all the people you know, I might just be the coolest with that.  However the politicians they cast their votes for are often the same ones with voting records and agendas that are clearly in conflict with equal rights. Note that I said EQUAL, not gay rights. I would like you to consider that if these politicians are doing what they can to make sure my rights are usurped or diminished (and believe me, they are)-  yours could be next. 

It could happen to you...
Do your homework, vote your conscience.
It's 2012 for crying out loud.

For more information and to see what you can do...


Originally posted November 2010

I was born into a relatively small family, with each a brother and a sister, and just 3 cousins. Well, technically there are 2 more, but we don't talk about it...

Anyway,  my siblings single-handedly repopulated our  tiny family by bringing forth 9 of the brightest and most beautiful human beings I have ever had the privilege to meet. They are now grown, and starting families of their own. I can hardly believe it, but  I'm a Great Uncle 7 times! How could a person be any more fortunate you ask? Well, I could have 2. Families that is...

When I was 14 years old, my friend Mandi Kent introduced me to an young man named Bobby Herd. In his early twenties then, I don't quite remember how she knew him. But that introduction changed my life. I was a misfit. A big, gay misfit growing up in a small farming community,  and Bobby took me under his wing.

That Christmas he invited me to a party that he and his roommate Lisa were throwing. This would not only be my first "adult party", but it would also be my first gay party. I asked if I could bring my friend Joel, who was the only other gay person  I knew. Bobby graciously said yes, and I spent the rest of the week fretting over what I would wear. I settled on a crisp red and white striped shirt with black jeans and a black vintage polyester country western vest from my Mother's closet, finished off with a pair of black ankle boots. My hair was bleached blond and permed. The year was 1985, and as it turned out, I wasn't the only misfit in town...

That chilly December night on Bunny Street, I would meet Stacey. And Bill Tomasini. And a cornucopia of other characters who would over the years become my other family. Maybe our bonds were (are) so strong because of the circumstances that brought us together, I don't really know. I just know that I am as blessed to know them, as I am my own blood relatives. 

Eventually most of us flew the coupe. I was the first to migrate to the Midwest from California. Over the years Todd, Teresa, Cindy and Mac, and eventually Stacey would  move here too.Some planted roots, others kept traveling. Scott moved to Washington. Lonnie to Kentucky. Of course we lost many in the war...

It was several years ago now that Cindy first had the idea to coordinate a Santa Maria Reunion. The idea would get tossed around by Stacey, Cindy and myself frequently, but the logistics seemed daunting. Then last Winter, those of us who hadn't stayed in as close a contact started finding each other on Facebook. Suddenly the idea of us convening from all over the country seemed plausible. One night while Stacey and I were having dinner in my apartment, talking about how wonderful it would be to see everybody again (after in some cases 15 and 20 years) and he said, "Let's just do this already!"

I spent most of my childhood plotting my escape from Santa Maria. I said on many occasions that once my Mother passed, I would have no reason to ever step foot on its soil again. When I arrived the last weekend in June, it was indeed the first time I'd been there since she left us 4 years ago. I didn't drive by the old house, or by my old schools. Attached to those places were the emotions that  had kept me away for so long, and it was  truly time to let go of those grievances. In doing so I was able to enjoy this extraordinary experience, and come to the realization that you really can go home again...and with a little advance notice, your family will always be there.

Here's the video guys, hope you like it!

Santa Maria Reunion 2010 from Michael McKinley on Vimeo.

June 5, 2012

Where Are They Now?

 Whatever became of The Killer Bees?
Good question!

We got 6 new additions this past week to our Facebook Fan Page.
Welcome aboard  Phillip, Mauricio, Brian, Garrett, Marion and Greg!

I'm ever astounded at this internet marvel, and always so curious to know who you all are and how you stumbled upon us! According to the Facebook stats, you live in 18 countries around the world. I don't recall seeing Nigeria or Turkey before, but I do now- HELLO to you! Help yourself to the honey.

Hard to believe, but it's been over a year now since Cassandra and I filmed her last season of This Is What I Know So Far. Of course there's been allot going on between there and here, and you know my girl keeps busy co-hosting her ever-popular morning television talkshow,  REAL MILWAUKEE!

As well, it's been a year now since Stacey and I filmed the last edition of Stacey's Hot Dish. The back to back editing of those last 7 episodes nearly did us both in.

Cherrie's been busy promoting her amazing Bubbles, Ink. ...

Though we've been away we have not strayed far, nor have we forsaken thee!
Our technology for creating seemed to go sideways all at once, preventing filming of anything for quite some time. I'm still not thrilled with the new editing software (or the replacement camera for that matter), but I'm finally back in business and happy to announce that as soon as Cassandra and I can coordinate some time, fresh vignettes of her uplifting vlog will premier on Cassandra McShepard Television. Stacey and I had a chance to chat recently about the 2nd (Official) Season of Stacey's Hot Dish , and he's got some great ideas (and recipes) in store for you too. I'll give you a clue- more out of the kitchen and ON LOCATION!

And me?
Well, I contribute when I can.

There's so, so much more that I'd like to do with my little slice of cyberspace.
The time involved in finding the positive stories I  used to feature here, in conducting the Q&A's- in making all of it happen, is what usually leads me to default into writing about my own life experiences. I appreciate that some of you glean entertainment value from them, but quite frankly I spend enough time with me- and would much rather be sharing other people's stories and experiences.

I mean, that's what this was always supposed to be about.
I hope to return to that model this Summer.

If I'm absent for periods, don't send out a search party.
Hopefully I'll be filming and editing with Cassandra and Stacey, or blowing fresh bubbles for Cherrie. I also intend to steal a few rays while the sun is high in the sky, and regroup...and hopefully bring you a little more of what you knew before. I'd like that, I think you will too.

In the meantime Bee good Beezers, and remember to KEEP ON POLLINATING!

I WANT To Be Alone?

The Spinsterlicious Life

Always one to provide us with a fresh and thought provoking perspective on The Single Life, Cherrie Hanson's review of this eye-opening new book by Elanore Wells is as intriguing as the book's title.

 Check it out at CHERRIE BOMB!

June 4, 2012

Musical Treat Of The Week

My obsession with Robyn continues...

"Quote, Unquote" #9 Once In A Rare Million


It’s a strange thing, how you can love somebody, how you can be all eaten up inside with needing them — and they simply don’t need you. That’s all there is to it, and neither of you can do anything about it. And they’ll be the same way with someone else, and someone else will be the same way about you and it goes on and on — this desperate need — and only once in a rare million do the same two people need each other.”   
- Madeleine L’Engle

Buzz Out!

Buzz Out!