A PRAIRIE HOME COMPETITION
COURTESY HAWAII PUBLIC RADIO
Garrison Keillor, right, and the cast of "A Prairie Home Companion" come to Honolulu Nov. 11.
October angst in Makakilo
For those who need a little help with the concept, here is an example of the type of essay we're looking for in our "Prairie Home Competition."
It's been a quiet week in Makakilo, my hometown, out on the edge of the Leeward side.
A slight air of anxiety is settling over the neighborhood, because it's early October and the holidays are looming. Everyone's wondering where the year went -- just the other day, it seems, they were taking down last year's Christmas lights -- and this makes them feel old, on top of wondering how they're going to get everything done that needs to be done before Santa comes.
Send us the news; win concert seats
Has it been a quiet week in your hometown? Tell us about it.
In advance of the Nov. 11 performances of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" at the Blaisdell Concert Hall, we invite faithful listeners to submit essays in the mode of Keillor's "News from Lake Wobegon" reports. The difference is, you must set your report in your Hawaii hometown.
The prize? From the Star-Bulletin: $100 cash. From Hawaii Public Radio: two tickets to the sold-out 12:45 p.m. live broadcast performance, plus an invitation to the HPR VIP party earlier that day and a gift basket of "Prairie Home" souvenirs.
The winning essay will be published in the Star-Bulletin.
Essays must be about 800 words (the length of Keillor's weekly column, "The Old Scout.")
You must begin with Keillor's classic phrases (see the sample column at right).
Extra points for including localized names from Keillor's stories and for reflecting his storytelling style. Entries will be judged by a panel from the Star-Bulletin and HPR.
Send entries to "Prairie Home Competition," Honolulu Star-Bulletin features section, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. No fax entries. Deadline is noon Oct. 30.
Be sure to include your full name, telephone number(s) and e-mail address.
Employees of the Star-Bulletin, Midweek and Hawaii Public Radio are ineligible. Nonwinning entries may be published without compensation to the writers. Judges' decisions are final.
The new sign at the traffic light isn't helping matters. This would be the intersection of Palahia Street and Makakilo Drive, the main artery leading to the city, the freeway and the rest of the world. Not long ago a sign went up that says that says, "No right turn on red," which is inexplicable to the residents, who can turn right on red just about anywhere on the entire island, except now here, in their own neighborhood.
Every morning, Pastor Inqvist sits at that light and complains mightily. Why can't he turn right when he is certainly smart enough to know when it's safe to pull into the breach? And every morning his wife, Judy, says, "I guess we just have to move, get away from this traffic light, or probably your head will explode, eventually."
Judy Inqvist suggests moving a lot, whenever the pastor gets into a rant about something or whenever she finds a centipede in the house. But the truth is, the Inqvists will never move. They have a nice house, and their son -- Kalani Inqvist -- likes his school down the hill in Kapolei.
In fact, Kalani just won an essay contest for his civics paper, "Why Kapolei Reminds Me of a Freeway Rest Stop in Southern California."
Kalani calculated that in Kapolei town proper, which is a mere two-tenths of a mile long, there are three self-serve gas stations, every one with a minimart, and six fast-food restaurants (McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, Jack-in-the-Box and Pizza Hut), plus a Starbucks and Jamba Juice. Continue straight down the road another seven-tenths of a mile, where the town thins out a bit, and you'll also pass a 7-Eleven (with self-serve gas and minimart), a Wendy's and another Starbucks and Jamba Juice.
Not that this is a bad thing, in Kalani's mind. On a trip to Disneyland last year, he decided that Southern California is his idea of heaven. If only Arby's and Carl's Jr. would open in Kapolei, they'd have everything, except for In-N-Out Burger, his all-time favorite, but there aren't any of those in Hawaii.
For the sake of his civics paper, though, he waxed on about how a single community could sustain so many minimarts serving slushies, and fast-food drive-throughs serving french fries, and what that meant to the state of society. The judges thought it was brilliant.
One of them, Dorothy Maeda, owner of the Chatterbox Grill, just doesn't understand Starbucks. She thinks of it as a fungus, always spreading. Not that she's against fungus -- after all, mushrooms are a fungus and she loves those.
She just doesn't understand why one company needs to be everywhere -- why two in less than one mile in Kapolei, for example? At some point isn't enough enough? And she doesn't understand why people flock there -- is Starbucks really better? Cheaper? It makes her think of lemmings.
But Dorothy believes in free enterprise and giving people what they're willing to pay for, so she will live and let live. Her coffee's cheaper than Starbucks' (with free refills), and she serves a fried-rice omelet with kim chee and pork adobo on the side that she's sure Starbucks will never offer.
Yes, live and let live, Pastor Inqvist thinks as he and his wife return to Makakilo after their day's toil. This time, the no-right-on-red traffic light works in their favor, as it halts oncoming cars so they can make a left turn into their neighborhood.
The fading sun makes the streets look friendly and clean. The holidays do loom, but at least Christmas is still 10 weeks away.
And that's the news from Makakilo, where the women are strong, the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.