Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Rain? It Can Stop Anytime. Truly.

Once again, it is raining. We have gotten 8 inches of rain since the weekend. 30 streets in my city are closed due to flash flooding, as are local highways, and manhole covers are EXPLODING INTO THE AIR. There are large pieces of FURNITURE floating in the streets, occasionally butting up against water-logged AUTOMOBILES. One of our living room windows is dripping as I write this, and my dog is going absolutely out of her mind at the thunder and lightning. My husband is somewhere out there investigating the flash flooding with a friend--perhaps he too has drifted away, leaving me with nothing but a barking, insane dog as a consolation prize. As local meteorologist Cameron Moreland said on the news, "Turn around. Don't drown."

The times? Oh, so good.

I didn't set out to write a final, desperate post before my house was washed away by the Fox River--I actually wanted to complain about something that has truly been bothering me lately.

And it is this: Joe Francis? Damn you to hell for ruining the kettle drum for me. Local commercials touting hot tub & spa vendors or weight loss products have been airing recently, and this I have no beef with. But they use the KETTLE DRUM in the background music. And what do I think of when I hear the kettle drum?

That's right. The Girls Gone Wild videos.

The kettle drum has forever been ruined for me.

Thanks alot, Mr. Smut Peddler. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the oboe. I'm just saying.

Also, you've seen Juno, right? Most excellent work, that. Talented & gorgeous screenwriter Diablo Cody was in the latest issue of Writer's Digest (the cover story no less!) discussing some upcoming screenplays, including one for Universal called Girly Style. What is it about, pray tell? A raunchy women's road trip.

*Sound of my head hitting the keyboard*

It's a good thing the new issue of Mother Jones came today to distract me. There is a special section on the prison industry in America, and since my next novel features characters who work in a prison, I read it eagerly. I wanted to share my favorite highlights of the bit on prison labor with you. Not only are some of America's 2.3 million inmates making human-silhouette targets and custom dentures, but:

"Starbucks subcontractor Signature Packaging Solutions has hired Washington prisoners to package holiday coffees (as well as Nintendo Game Boys). Confronted by a reporter in 2001, a Starbucks rep called the setup 'entirely consistent with our mission statement.'"

"Boeing subcontractor Microjet had prisoners cutting airplane components, paying $7 an hour for work that paid union wages of $30 on the outside."

"Texas inmates produce brooms, bedding, toilets, sinks, showers, and bullwhips. Bullwhips?"

"In 1997, a California prison put two men in solitary for telling journalists they were ordered to replace 'Made in Honduras' labels on garments with 'Made in the USA.'"

"Its inmate call centers are the 'best kept secret in outsourcing,' Unicor (Federal Prison Industries) boasts. In 1994, a contractor for congressional hopeful Jack Metcalf hired Washington state prisoners to call and remind voters he was pro-death penalty. Metcalf, who prevailed, said he never knew." --Caroline Winter for Mother Jones

PS: I'm happy to report that my husband has safely returned from his Adventures with the Flood. The dog? Still going out of her mind.


  1. Jeezus Louizus, send us some rain! California is in full frontal drought mode and getting fined for using water.

    That Mother Jones article was awesome. What else don't we know about our own country? I'm going to go with B. Everything.

  2. North Carolina uses female inmates to work in their tourism call center.

    It was oddly unsettling.

  3. Jess, thank you for commenting on my blog. I appreciate your kind remarks. I have actually read your blog a few times, but I can't remember if I've ever left you a message yet? Maybe I have and that's how you found me. (I have a hard time keeping up with the gazillion blogs in my RSS reader.)

    Anyway, your books sound so interesting. I knew nothing about the prisoners....although I often pass them while they're cleaning up the streets around here.

    And please send us some rain too. We are in desperate need!

  4. Mmmmm. Prisoner coffee.

  5. Bullwhips? Well... there are quite a few people who are into S&M, right? At least that's what Law & Order tells us.

  6. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Diablo Cody's got nothing on you and you can tell her I said so. Next year you can take you RITA and bonk her over the head with it. (But be careful of the feather--I hear those break off very easily.)

  7. Geez. Prisons.
    It's been raining NON STOP here. And thunderstoms. Lots of thunderstorm. THE DRAMA!

  8. Dear Jess,

    Can you UPS some rain barrels to me?

    Your reviews are WHOOT WHOOT WHOOT GREAT! I'm not surprised.

    Hey, I ordered my copy from Amazon about 5 minutes ago and it'll ship on June 16. Can't wait to have it. I need something to settle me down or shake me up.

    I miss stopping by here. Spare time is a rare gift these days.

    Wilting in NC,

  9. Hey Jess:

    I've come from Canada to visit family in Des Moines. The flooding is crazy!!! I absoutely cannot believe it. Downtown is under water and the levee broke this morning.

  10. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Wow! Hope you survive the flooding okay.

    Also, loved the irony of having prisoners make pro-death-penalty phone calls. Hope they weren't death row prisoners!

  11. Ok, it is Sunday. Have you floated away yet or are things drier?

  12. Stay dry my deb sister. How will we road trip together if you have no roads?

  13. I thought they only made license plates or something and picked up trash on the highways.

    This might be why Americans have a hard time finding jobs. It's easier to force labor on inmates then to pay the honest hard working people enough to live on.

    Sad. Just plain sad.

  14. Anonymous9:56 PM

    Hey Mrs. Riley!

    It's the Stevens Point area Target cashier Jourdyn here, and I just couldn't help myself. After meeting you today, I was so excited to get home and do some research on your book, and I can't WAIT to buy it! I'm also looking forward to going to your reading in July. I hope the flooding and rain stop soon! Please take care, and keep writing!

    -A new found fan-

    -Jourdyn =]

  15. Anonymous6:17 AM

    Your lifestyle or taste determines what the focal point of your living area is. If you have a fireplace, you can rearrange your furniture around it. Or if you have a piano, and this is the focal point of your living area, your furniture could be set around it. When rearranging your furniture, also consider traffic in your Living Room Decoration area. It is always good to arrange furniture in off-square angles. This makes the room warmer and more casual.