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Wednesday, June 26, 2013 37 comments

A Knight of the Cosmic Laire. Ye Gads! What an Honour!

Ye olde aloha,

 (He rides into the town square, the hooves of his huge, white horse click-clacking off the dome-shaped cobblestones. Jumping from the sweating steed, he gathers the waiting townsfolk around him.)

“Greetings to you, my Lords, Ladies, squires, fair maidens, serfs – and Gary.
I stand before you, aye, a little taller today, the recipient of a new honour...”
...He pauses to snap his fingers.
Eight manly men in brown tights and powdered wigs break rank from the crowd and form a 16th century version of ye flashe mob.
Using those long, trumpet things with banner ads hanging down (the only one he can read is for White Castle) the musicians play a wee melody of something triumphant-sounding.
He holds up one bejeweled hand – then lowers it to power off ye new tablet. The empty hand rises again. The trumpeters trumpet no more and slither back into the crowd - as if they were never there!

“Ye friends, I am now a Knight of the Cosmic Table.”

He waves down a smattering round of applause from the open windows of Cavanaugh's Tavern.

“Sir David Powers King himself bestowed this honour upon me during this past week of the Summer Solstice.
Now, I must impeach upon you my desire that ye please visit Sir David's Cosmic Laire to hear tell a mighty interview between his Sir-ness and I upon the ceremonious announcement of my Knighting.”
(Jumps back on weary steed, who looks up as if to say, my gosh, Sir Chunky, I hope we’re going to Subway.)

“Hi-Ho, Zinc Silver! Away!”

David Powers King


"Sir" David Powers King will release his debut novel, WOVEN, with Michael R. Jensen, Oct. 8, 2013 by Cedar Fort / SweetWater Press.
Monday, June 24, 2013 25 comments

Last Week to Enter WRiTE CLUB (+ "Inspiring Blogger")


I really, really wanted to take a moment to mention "two things.”

Pheww. OK. Now that’s taken care of, ahhhhh, I feel so much better :)
Elsewhere, in our top story today, DL Hammons is hosting his third annual WRiTE CLUB.

There is still a week to email your 500-word (max) entry and all submissions remain anonymous.
(Which is awesome because I’m having the dickens of a time whether to submit my Victorian-era, Zombie-Slasher organic (yet romantic) poem using the alias of Morgan, DPK or Elise? :)
PS… DL and the two previous winners of WRiTE CLUB, Tiana Smith and Mark Hough did a fantastic job of explaining the contest at no-hyperlink-needed Alex’s this past Friday.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Beverly Fox was very kind to recently award me a “Very Inspiring Blogger” Award.

Accordingly I am to reveal seven random things about ones self….

·         As a 17-year-old, I was arrested in Magaluf, Spain and spent at least five hours “communicating my desire” to not pay a $50 bribe (never mind being brave and not giving in to corruption - it was all the drinking money I had left!)

Upon my eventual “escape” (sans payment of any kind – score!) I eventually made it back to our hotel at 6 a.m...

...Where I *fully* expected each of my six mates to be busy coordinating pre-Internet emails called "faxes" (!) while working the phones to and from the Irish embassy - all in a valiant effort to secure my release. It was then very surprising to find our room empty and dark.
I was the first one home!

·         I adore the ocean (any of them) – or any wave-making lakes, (hello Michael Di CHICAGO :), but don’t need to do much *in* the water. Listening to the waves is enough.

·         My favorite number is 56 (I also have no clue why, but there you go…)

·         The only sport I truly, truly love is baseball. I’m a die-hard Angels fan who is currently on bended knee. I can’t *wait* for Spring Training 2014. (Have you seen the newest horror movie, Nightmare at Anaheim Stadium?)

·         My first real job as a growing lad in Dublin was “apprentice truck driver.” We used to drive all over Ireland to change/replace those old linen towel machines in toilets and restaurant kitchens.

One day, my driver/friend was teaching me how to drive (ahead of my road test) when I reversed into a stationary car. (It wasn't a Mercedes, but could have been a Hallmark.)

I was fired hours later.

·         However, if I had gotten my license, I would have happily settled in Dublin with some “young wan” and would *never* have asked my Da if it was OK to go live in Amsterdam with my Dutch Oma.

But, after the crash, Da said sure. Jobs were scarce in 1989, why not go live in Amsterdam (as a nineteen-year-old youngster) for a few months? (Place original yellow smiley face HERE.)

·         Thus, if I hadn’t of moved to Amsterdam, my Wanderlust gene might still be dormant – and I guarantee I wouldn’t be here in Hawaii with my beautiful family, twenty-three years later. (Thank you, Car Driver for parking where you did that day – and I’m sorry, again!)

 Normal rules of the Inspiring Blogger award dictate at least five nominees. I have only one, but if you’ve ever read Green Monkey Tales, you’ll know why...

Shannon, you are an amazing woman, wife, writer and mother.
You have my prayers and best wishes, and I only wish I had a hundredth of your will power and strength.

Thursday, June 20, 2013 28 comments

Hi! From Hawaii: HI2 - "Eat the Street"


Welcome to the second edition of my new (picturesque) series!

Eat The Street - and not a McDonalds in sight - I'm Lovin' It :)
Called Hi! from Hawaii or HI2 for short, these posts are great for anyone seeking really bad travel tips.

You might think I’m joking, but honestly, whenever we get *there,* my three boys run amok like crazed banshee Leprechauns, so I tend to miss some (no, all) of the nuances of the place or event.

4 p.m. Setting up for Dinner at Eat the Street
Luckily, I’m not writing warm-and-fuzzy Nat Geo travel articles – and please know that HI2 will always be a free community service. (This sentence sponsored, in part, by Acme Fans of Honolulu – We’re Easy When You’re Breezy!)
Trust locals - Where there is a line, Thar be Good Eats :)
The first HI2  was here at the Honolulu Zoo and someone suggested Hanauma Bay, so that’s coming up.

Other future posts will feature the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Bishop Museum and Downtown Honolulu and that Waikiki beach thing.

Speaking of which, anyone wanting a review of the Honolulu nightlife will, I’m afraid, have to wait donkey’s years.

Have Grill - Will Cook - 'Sall good :)
(As mentioned, I go to all these places with the kids and/or the missus, so the posts are meant for a family friendly, PG-6 readership :)

Here's a Smart Chef who gets Show not Tell :)
This week’s HI2 adventure was at a free event called Eat the Street, which is like one of those “Taste Of …” foodie festivals – only here most of the vendors are Hawaiian Food Trucks so the monthly event is billed as “Hawaii’s Food Truck and Street Food Rally”.
Specially Made for a Dude Called Alex...

Organized by the folks over at Streetgrindz.com, Eat The Street takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. on the last Friday of the month.

More than forty trucks park on the outskirts of a closed parking lot (and if we weren’t close to downtown, you could almost (sort of…maybe, if you nearly closed your eyes and squinted a little to the left) get a sense of what life was like for the folks in the Wild West when they stopped to circle the wagons.
"Hey Hank, is this Utah? Are we there yet?"

 Each month is themed and each vendor comes up with their own twist. (Garlic was the flavor for May – garlic popsicle anyone?)
Garlic Popsicles 86'd by 5:30 p.m. ...wow :)

Cheese is the theme for June (that's "fromage" to you, Elise:) and I’ve heard there’ll be a cheese carving contest, which sounds like fun, especially if your name is Jerry or Mickey.)

These ROCKED - well worth the 15-min wait !!!
It *is* awesome seeing (and smelling) dozens of local, regional and international food selections – but you have to be strong-willed to walk the perimeter at least once before buying *anything.*
6 p.m.: Now you know why we brought the baby gate :)

There’s also a DJ on-site, several artists selling their wares, an information booth and even a few porta-potties and washbasins – so you don’t waste valuable eating time :)

The next Eat the Street is June 28 and the address is 555 South Street – if you’re in town.

My rating: 4 out of 5 flower leis
(stars are sooo 1990s, brah.)
Koopmans even snags a sunset picture. Score!


Sunday, June 16, 2013 29 comments

Happy Father's Day - Be Courageous, Men!


To all the Men who are, I say: Happy Father's Day

To all the Men who want to be, I say: Happy Father's Day


To all the Men who positively influence a young person in their life, I say: Happy Father's Day.

And, to all the Men who, for whatever reason have chosen not to be a father in their child's life, I say:

...It is never too late to be the Father you were meant to be.

Men: Be Courageous!
Thursday, June 13, 2013 39 comments

New Bloggers! Don't Quit - Keep Writing - Followers Ahead!


All this week, I tried valiantly – but unsuccessfully – to personally respond to the 171 comments stemming from my recent D-Day post.

I ground to a halt and my mindset shifted gears when Lily Eva Blake replied to my comments and said she was “honored” that I stopped by to comment on her “baby blog.”

While I appreciated her very kind words, it shouldn’t be an honor to receive a comment and a new blog is only a Alex J. Cavanaugh-type blog in waiting.

My point is that I am no one special and there no magic tricks to the (perceived) success of my blog, so anyone starting off needs not to feel worry, but excitement.

I wrote my first post on 9/11/11 – but only because I’d been struggling to find a topic to write about.

And on the 10th anniversary of the worst attacks on our soil, I knew I felt passionate enough to share my feelings.

I wrote, rewrote, edited, sat on it, rewrote it and sat back with a satisfied sigh.

I garnered one comment – from my pastor.

Point: I didn’t know what to write about – and I still don’t sometimes – just look at my labels, but the point is to be just YOU.

It cracks me up no end to see all the different direction I have gone with this blog and that’s fine.

MY point is your online “voice” has to be the same as your real voice. As in real life, we all have a unique voice, so have a conversation with us – don’t share your thesis.

These days, my “writing” blog seems to be much more about Parenting and Patriotism than Prose and Parenthesis, and again that’s OK. It’s working for me.

PS. And, be patient – pay your dues.

I’ve been blogging nearly three years and have just recently finished WIP#1.

I have no agent and my book isn’t published – but boy what a wonderful internship I’ve had here in what I jokingly call the Blogisfear.

So, comment on other blogs, promote a cover reveal, enter a bloghop or tweet a new release. Keep doing things like this, and we will find you ;)

Finally, never, EVER give up.

IF writing is your dream – don’t quit – there is no age limit to being a published author.

Remember… Failure is not an option – it’s a choice.

Can anyone add to what I’ve mentioned and share any other tips with new bloggers?

Monday, June 10, 2013 25 comments

D-Day Update (& How I became a Kid in a Candy Store)


U.S. Army CSM (Ret.) Bill Ryan (FL, 2006)
I have a neat update, but first can I say a very *Special* thanks to everyone who contributed to the more than 165 comments on my recent D-Day post about D-Day veteran and friend, U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) William “Bill” Ryan.

(I felt quite Alex J. Cavanaugh-ish for at least a full day and even wondered if Elise Fallson would make me a Mini-Mark… until I realized I would sound like a small store :(

From those in the Blog Blitz army who answered the call of Allied Supreme Commenter Gen. Donald L. Hammons – to the “civilians” who follow my blog on a regular basis, your response was amazing – and Bill was truly appreciative when I talked to him.

I didn’t mention it, but for the last seven years, I’ve made it an annual tradition to call Bill on D-Day. (Normally, he’s in Normandy or somewhere else – he’s always invited to related events in France, England, and Holland – but at least I can leave a voicemail expressing my appreciation for his service.)

When I called this past Thursday, I was batting .142 (1 for 7), but I scored a home run when, to my delight, Bill answered the phone.

However, instead of being happy, I immediately asked why wasn’t he over in Normandy? (I’m such a dork, sometimes.)

“Well, it’s only the 69th anniversary, the big one is next year,” Bill said. “But I’ll be heading to Holland in September.”

U.S. Paratroopers drop into Holland, Sept. 1944.
Now, I’m nobody’s big gurl’s blouse, but I gasped (just like they do in the movies.)

“No way,” I said, holding my breath, because there was no way, was there?

 “When are you going to be there?” I asked.

“I’ll be in Nijmegen the second week of September. Why?”

(I skipped the gasp and went straight for the high-pitched squee… which may have perturbed this old warrior, but he’s a good ol’ sport, is our Bill, so he ignored my extended use of the higher decibel table.)

“Bill, I’ll be in Amsterdam the same week (my dad and I have a long-standing vacation rendezvous.) Nijmegen is only a couple of hours away by train.”

“Well that’s great to hear. We should plan to me--”

I ran over his invitation like a starved ‘80s groupie at a Depeche Mode concert.

“Bill, would it be OK if I tagged along to observe some of the official events you’ve got going on? Promise I won’t be a pain,” I said, snapping into full-on reporter mode. “Just me, my camera and a notepad. Two notepads. Max.”

“Mark, it would be a pleasure, especially after hearing about your post – and that so many people responded,” said Bill from a phone in Melbourne, Florida, as we contemplated meeting in the historic Dutch city of Nijmegen, which is more than 7,300 miles away from Honolulu.

After a few minutes, we agreed to swap travel itineraries and call again soon to firm up the plans.

After sending Bill my best wishes, I put the phone down – and the first thing I did was do the giddy dance made famous (for me) by Laura Linney in Love Actually.

So, now, thanks to all of YOU who responded to the post, I’ve the chance to spend the day with “the other Private Ryan” (and hopefully a bunch of other WWII veterans) as they participate in official ceremonies remembering Operation Market Garden, (September 17 – 25, 1944.)

I flopped on the couch and contemplated the possibilities as a kid-in-the-candy-store smile spread across my face like a slow Hawaiian sunrise.

This is going to be fun.

Thursday, June 6, 2013 174 comments

CSM (Ret.) Bill Ryan - A D-Day Veteran - Shares His Story


Today, sixty-nine years ago, up to 4,000 American troops died on the beaches of Normandy – in one day.


I have the honor of calling one D-Day veteran a friend, U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) William “Bill” Ryan.
U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) William "Bill" Ryan

Bill is a sprightly 88-year-old, retired Florida resident, but one who most definitely still enjoys traveling to different parts of the world. (Currently, he’s trying to figure a way to get over and see us here in Pearl Harbor :)

 I first met CSM Ryan when I was a beat reporter for Hometown News, a weekly, which at the time had nineteen issues and a circulation of more than 500,000 copies a week. 

I interviewed CSM Ryan several times over the course of a few months, and thought it would be appropriate, on this D-Day anniversary, to pull together some highlights of the two interviews.

However, before I do, why don’t you meet CSM Ryan yourself. Click here for this amazing, two-minute video clip from October 2012.
 (Go on. I'll wait :)
For my full print interviews, click here and here.

 And now, for some highlights of the 2006 interviews:

A career soldier and veteran of three wars, retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. William Ryan, who served his country for more than 30 years, walked a personal memory lane during a recent visit to Melbourne's Liberty Bell Memorial Museum. CSM Ryan said he’s looking forward to sharing some of his experiences with other local veterans.
CSM Ryan at the Liberty Bell Museum, Melbourne, FL, (2006)

"They say a stranger is only a friend you have yet to meet," he said. "I appreciate the invitation and always enjoy these informal talks [at the VFW posts.] Staying busy helps me feel young and definitely keeps me out of trouble."

One memorable occasion when he found himself in a literal boatload of trouble was during the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. During the initial phase of D-Day, historians have said the armada carried more than 156,000 Allied troops into France.

Ironically, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, originally picked June 5 as the “unalterable” date. As the day approached and troops began to embark for the crossing, bad weather set in, threatening dangerous landing conditions.
U.S. Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (Courtesy army.mil)

After tense debate, Eisenhower decided on a 24-hour delay, requiring the recall of some ships already at sea.

"Because of the rescheduled date, we ended up stuck on our transport for quite a few days," said  then-Pfc. Ryan, a young Army private assigned to Company I, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. "Many men were sick from the cramped quarters and the rough seas. But, once we loaded the boats and formed up for the 12-mile run to our assigned spot on Omaha Beach, things became much worse."
Assured of a break in the weather, Eisenhower is said to have begun the largest amphibious attack in history with the simple command: "OK. Let’s go."

So, in the early morning hours of June 6, 19-year-old Pfc. Ryan disembarked from his transport ship into a 36-foot "Higgins boat," or Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel.( LCVPs carried about 36 combat-equipped infantrymen, or 8,000 pounds of cargo from ship to shore.)

Pfc. Ryan's boat was one of more than 3,000 landing craft, 2,500 other ships and 500 naval vessels - escorts and bombardment ships that had left several English ports earlier.

Throughout those early hours, 822 aircraft, carrying parachutists or towing gliders roared overhead to the Normandy landing zones, a fraction of the air armada of 13,000 aircraft that would support D-Day. However, Pfc. Ryan said he was more concerned with what was going on at sea level.

"Once we departed the lee side of the transport, we were like a cork in a bathtub," he said. "Everyone who wasn't already sick immediately became ill. I was lucky - prior to my enlistment in the Army, I had served in the Merchant Marine."

On the way in to the beach, Pfc. Ryan said he saw two boats lost to the high waves. Then the drivers of the four remaining boats became disorientated due to a missing patrol boat that was supposed to ensure they were on course to hit their assigned area.
View from inside a "Higgins" LCVP (Courtesy army.mil)

"The beach was also covered with haze and smoke from the aerial bombardment, making identification of landmarks impossible," he said. "Add to all of this a strong current, and we ended up two miles off course to the east."

Retracing the route took time. When they got back on course, another two rifle companies had already landed and thus fouled up their landing beach, codenamed FOX GREEN.
"We were circling around like great big sitting ducks,” he said.

He finally ended up on the beach, but only after the landing craft suffered heavy damage due to the continuous barrage of heavy fire by German soldiers.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica's guide to the Normandy invasion, Omaha Beach was the second among the five landing areas of the assault. The beachhead was attacked, in part, by the U.S. 29th and 1st infantry divisions, many of whose soldiers drowned during the approach from ships offshore, or were killed by defending fire from embedded German troops atop the beach.

"Everything was crazy during the last few yards of our approach," he said. "Then our boat was hit. I was knocked unconscious and injured."

(He jokingly calls himself the “other Private Ryan.”)

 "No, it wasn't me, but (Stephen) Spielberg got it 99 percent right when he made the 1998 movie, Saving Private Ryan," he said. "Everything was going crazy, and I was knocked unconscious and injured when my boat was hit trying to get closer to the beach."

What was the missing one percent in Saving Private Ryan?

CSM Ryan said it was the "Tommy gun," an American-built Thompson .45 caliber submachine gun that was standard issue during the war.
"All through the movie, they never had to reload, not once," he said. "The Tommy gun was a good gun, but it wasn't that good. I wish."

He later discovered two men from his boat dragged him ashore, placing him against a small embankment.
On D-Day, Wounded soldiers Were Pulled Toward the fight...

"To this day, I've never met those two guys, but they sure did save one Private Ryan that day.”

Before he was evacuated back to England later that night, he had a front row seat and observed all the organized and mass confusion around him, not only on the beach, but in the water.
"Boy, if only I had a tape recorder or a movie camera.”

Wounded Soldiers on D-Day Await Evacuation (Courtesy army.mil)


After recovering, Pfc. Ryan was assigned to the 508th Airborne Infantry Regiment. He combat jumped into Nijmegen, Holland, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge before ending in Czechoslovakia at the end of the war.

While members of the media always contact him around the anniversary of D-Day, when it comes to what the armed forces accomplished during that dark period of the nation's history, CSM Ryan said he's detected a general note of apathy among the American public.

"I'm a representative of another generation. That's why I like to speak to groups. I'm trying to ensure our contributions will be remembered," he said. "I hope, by sharing my experiences of the past, that I'm contributing to the future."


The last time we corresponded (I send an email… and about a week later, a typed letter arrives at my door... which is awesome on many different levels) Bill said he’s on Chapter 53 of a book “I swear I’m not writing.”
Boy, wouldn’t *that* be a story to read.

 There’s also another reason why D-Day is very personal to me.

Holland was officially liberated May 5, 1945, but the first Allied troops entered the Netherlands Sept. 9, 1944, on a reconnaissance patrol. A small part of Limburg (in the southeast) was liberated by the U.S. 30th Infantry Division Sept. 12, 1944.

My father was born three weeks later, Oct. 2, 1944, in Amsterdam, Holland.

                                                    Da is on the RIGHT (Holland) - circa 1960)
                                                   Me and Da (Ireland, 2005)
                                                   Ultrasound of Son No. 1 (Mama's Tummy, 2007)

 So, Bill, I dedicate this post to you, and all your warrior-brothers who fought for freedom on D-Day – and to all the men and women back in the homeland who kept the ammo coming and the tanks rolling.

CSM Ryan, you and your peers really are founding members of the Greatest Generation.
And, I thank you, and all D-Day veterans who read this, for their service and their sacrifices.

                                         Omaha Beach scene from Saving Private Ryan (1998)


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