If you're the type of person who likes to do things the needlessly complicated way, then come on over. Here's how to make AA batteries entirely by hand, courtesy of YouTube's NurdRage.
The necessary materials amount to a 5 mL plastic syringe (the perfect size for a battery case, it turns out), a zinc sheet, potassium hydroxide, manganese dioxide, carbon powder, and pencil lead. And yes, all of the chemicals are easily found online. The result may not the cheapest way to power a clock or remote control, but you'll come out with a greater appreciation for the humble battery. [ NurdRage via Digg]