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

October 31, 2012

One From The Patch

You know, I used to make videos for the blog...oh to have time on my hands!

Until we meet again through the magic of digital video, here's an old pumpkin from my patch. After re-watching this 2 years later, I find I'm still scared of the same things... Wishing everybody a fun and safe Halloween!

October 29, 2012

Musical Treat Of The Week


Quote, Unquote #19: Equal in Value

The Privileged...


Three Times A Lady

The air was ripe with excitement and anticipation.
20,000 well-dressed people were seated in Chicago's cavernous United Center waiting for the legendary Barbra Streisand  to take the stage for what we'd heard would be a spectacular 3 hour show. Everyone knew it would be a polished production punctuated by a lush orchestra. But at 70 years old, could she still 'deliver the goods'?

If you aren't new here then you've seen Barbra mentioned from time {wink} to time. Perhaps you've even read my special Barbra story...

When we were teenagers, my best friend Stacey and I swore if Barbra ever went on tour, we'd quit our jobs and follow her like Deadheads follow The Grateful Dead. Of course back in the mid 80's there was no hope in sight that Barbra would ever overcome her legendary stage fright and give up those goods. She hadn't toured since 1966! When she finally did conquer her fears and hit the road in 1994, I was a struggling young waiter and the closest stop on her tour was Detroit. Forget the increasingly (and exceedingly) high price of concert tickets; I'd have to take a weekend off from work and pay for airfare! I could either fulfill a lifetime dream or pay my rent. I paid my rent and waited for the HBO special.

When she decided to give it another go 6 years later, there was no question I would be there. A plan of action was quickly put together and implemented. I flew into Los Angeles and met Stacey there for one of the most exciting evenings of my entire life. I'll never, ever forget sharing that experience with him. Or going to Canter's deli on the way for patrami on rye and the best rugelach in L.A. for desert! I clearly remember leaving the venue that night amongst a silent crowd of thousands- everyone still too mesmerized to speak. Once we hit the street, Stacey lit up a joint. Two older ladies passed by us and one said to the other "At a Barbra Streisand concert?" Her friend quipped "Sure, why not."

In 2006 while I was living in Chicago, she did it again.
There were allot of folks griping because they had paid steep prices for tickets 6 years before under the guise that she would never tour again. But this new tour was devised as a way for her to raise money for her charitable organization and in doing so, she raised millions and millions for excellent causes. I was more than happy to do my share! This time I was able to host a pre-concert soiree at my place, complete with tasty noshes and Barbra's favorite libation- Bellinis. Jeffery arranged for a limo for the whole gang to be transported to and fro worry free. It was all-so chic. Stacey and I were interviewed by Rosie O' Donnell's cameras for a documentary that never saw the light of day, and I wore fur pants. Yes I did.

Flash forward to this past Summer. 
With her 70th birthday just behind her and her 50th anniversary with Columbia Records just around the corner, Barbra announces a special 2 night stint at Brooklyn's brand spanking new Barclay's Center. It would seem that the borough's most famous export was coming home for a first time ever concert event! Then several weeks later, the Brooklyn shows unexpectedly expanded into a mini tour. The morning of the announcement my reaction was calm and resolved. After a lean year it didn't even occur to me that I would go. I couldn't justify the expense. When tickets for Chicago went on sale Jeffrey called and said "Are you crazy? That's what credit cards are for! It'll be your Christmas and next year's birthday present. We're GOING!" And the next thing I knew I had a ticket.

In the press and gossips (and even online fan forums) there was much speculation about Streisand taking on such a venture at her age. Could she still cut the mustard? Would her voice hold up?

Welll, I was there in Chicago this past Friday evening and I'm here to tell you that she not only delivered the goods once again, she exceeded expectations. Her tone sublime, her legendary phrasing of the lyrics as impeccable and poignant as ever...and in some instances like never before. She hit and held all the necessary notes- caressing or belting. The buzz at intermission was all about how her voice seemed to be in even better shape than it had been in 2006. Clearer and stronger. How was it possible? I could go on, but you really ought to read Miriam di Nunzio's spot on review from the Chicago Sun Times here.

When the concert came to it's rapturous conclusion and we all met up at Gate 3, the look on everyone's faces was that of pure bliss. Barbra Bliss. It wasn't so much the awe of being in the presence of a living legend, or even the sheer delight of having had an exceptional musical experience. It was quite simply, Barbra herself. She imbued the evening with so much warmth that you had no choice but to part ways with a glow. She's never been a mere songbird. She's an activist, a humanitarian, a mother. To see her in concert is to be wrapped in the cloak of all those things. Did I mention she looked like a million bucks in Donna Karan? She did.

I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt that she'll ever tour again.
She has a couple of almost certain film projects coming up, and by the time she were to get around to putting another show together, she could easily be in her mid seventies. After seeing her this past weekend, I can't help but think about how fortunate I was to be there for this last, magnificent hurrah. Thanks Jeffrey.

The kid who never dreamed he'd be able to see his idol even once, has been three times lucky. She's truly ageless...and yes, evergreen.

October 17, 2012

The Killer Bee Club: Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk. Enjoy it, if you haven't already caught this excellent TED Talk.

Card Carrying Member

As the season of hibernation grows near, I'm vowing to get reacquainted with my inner reader...A visit to my dear old friend The Library feels like a good way to break the ice.

The Killer Bee Club: Maya Angelou

Illustration by Benjamin Jancewicz

This short clip from a recent interview with Dr. Angelou illustrates why this Killer Bee is a national treasure.
Can you imagine? Can you?

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

October 8, 2012

Musical Treat Of The Week: Double Dip!

Sometimes it's good to know what you're getting for Christmas!
Alber in my stocking has been promised, and I'm very excited.

The new "Matt Alber with Strings Attached" dvd promo looks absolutely gorgeous...

STRINGS ATTACHED TRAILER from Greg Sirota on Vimeo.

Sneak Peek!
This version of Velvet Goldmine is stunning...

VELVET GOLDMINE from Greg Sirota on Vimeo.

Quote, Unquote #18: The Value System

"The value you place on yourself is the value the world will give you. If you want to be compensated for your talents - value your time. If you want to be a valuable business - solve valuable problems. If you want to be a valuable lover - give your love away with no expectation of return. If you want be valuable to yourself - choose people who do the same."

- Jackson Kiddard

The Original D.I.Y.

by Cassandra McShepard

When I was younger I went through a period where I didn't want anything home-made, even though my mother was a professional seamstress and was capable of constructing anything, and I do mean anything. I wanted to dress like my friends, so I didn't want to wear anything that didn't come from the store. Now, being the loving mother that she is, she indulged this foolish whim with one shopping trip which resulted in a pair of too short jeans from the Wooden Nickel, and an ill-fitting top from Gimbles-Shuster’s bargain basement...

You see I've been 5’9” since I was twelve, and back then store-bought clothing wouldn't accommodate my long frame. My mother knew this of course, but she wanted me to learn it for myself. The next time I went back to my mother to ask her to make an outfit for a class field trip, (which I’d often done and she would sometimes sew through the night to accommodate my last minute request) it resulted in a sewing machine and loving “Do It Yourself.”

Man, had I offended her? Who knew mothers had feelings? 
Well I learned that they did, but that wasn't all that I learned. I really did learn how to do it myself. Now of course my mother helped me. She would show me how to trim a pattern, how to measure it and make allowances where needed to ensure that it would fit my then size 10 hips (and size 6 waist), as well as how to lengthen it so as to be long enough. Because she sewed for people she always had fabric and she would let me pick from some of her 'choice pieces' (this was a phrase of hers).

Of course I always wanted to rush through it, but she would check my seams and make me do it right, saying “It should look as good on the inside as it does on the outside. You should be able to wear it inside-out”. Which I thought was incredibly silly. Who would wear a dress inside-out? Like so many other jewels my mother gave me, this too became invaluable. As I went on to design for entertainers exacting a high price, and saw many a seam checked.

My mother could have coined that phrase, for it was what she believed in. She taught me to be independent. Independent of the hair salon, the nail salons, the clothing salons. Her mantra, “Learn to do with excellence anything that you would pay to have done”. Well I took her advice, and I am now the ultimate Do It Yourselfer. As a matter of fact I do it for others too. All the time. Because of the wings my mother gave me, I have earned income as a Clothing & Jewelry Designer for such artists as the late Phyllis Hyman, Nancy Wilson, Abby Lincoln, The Manhattans, Frankie Beverly & Maze…I worked as a stylist doing hair & make-up for a nationally published magazine. I am very capable of doing my own nails. Yes, the left hand is done as well as the right. I build furniture and make window treatments. I am a personal trainer, motivational speaker, television talk show host, and on occasion, professional songstress.

But am I special? Nope, not in the least. I’m just free, free to do it myself. You see at an age when I was still listening, I was told that I could-  and just in case you're still listening, so can you! You too can D.I.Y.

Because I promise you, this is what I know so far;
Something happened. We have advanced ourselves into dependency. Why learn to do it, just pay to have it done? We have become so reliant upon others! Instead of encouraging our children to learn simple skills we have crippled them. Where we used to have to be D.I.Y’ers, we have now become the ultimate consumers. Sadder still, many of us seek our worthiness in the amount of that which we are able to consume.

Because I am a D.I.Y’er, I work very hard. My jobs though are not drudgery, I enjoy the work I do! I have turned all of my passions in to dollars... and all because I was told to D.I.Y.

So I’ll give to you the same gift my mother gave to me.
You will never know what you are capable of doing until you at least try to D.I.Y! Whatever you choose, pick something thing that you are paying someone else to do for you and just try it. Let me know how it works out! cmcshepard@yahoo.com

Cassandra McShepard has more hyphenates than Chins in a Chinese phone book. She's currently enduring Wisconsin Winters so that she can co-host the incredibly popular morning television talk show, Real Milwaukee. You can catch more of her on Cassandra McShepard Television.

October 2, 2012

COVERGIRL: Cassandra McShepard

If you're a newbee here, you may not know that I represent renaissance woman (and force of nature) Cassandra McShepard. If you've been buzzing around this hive for awhile, then you're fully aware of all the exciting things that have happened (and that are happening!) on our exciting journey together...

Yesterday the very talented Rick Swearingen of Mortensen Photography, photographed her at my house for the November cover of Wisconsin Woman Magazine...I couldn't help but want to share a few these gorgeous shots with you here!

Buzz Out!

Buzz Out!