Saturday, August 30, 2008

Religious signs in West Virginia

Some religious signs from a recent highly bumpercropulous swing through southeastern West Virginia.

There was a great, raucous Holiness service going on in this church, and the doors were open, so I parked and listened. Some folks came out of the church and invited in. I wish I could have joined them, but I had a dog in the car with me and couldn't leave him.

On the same church:

Near that church:

Also in McDowell County:

Close-ups of the Jesus windows. The Roman soldier drawing blows me away--what a peculiar choice.

Fayette County:


In Kincaid, a combination post office-praise center.

Hard to read, but the little blue sign says "Christians helping others."


From the Field Guide to What's Good.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Review: CMT's Outsiders Inn

Exactly what part of "Country Music Television" did you not understand?

Everyone here in Cocke County, TN has their knickers in a twist about Outsiders Inn, CMT's new reality(which they define loosely as staged and scripted scenes with ad libs and non-actors) spin-off of Gone Country. There has been outrage over how the series portrayed our local people, or rather how it didn't. All of the locals appearing in the series were actors drawn from the pool of talent that populates Pigeon Forge's stage shows--Central Casting for Southern-Stereotypes-R-Us. Which is fine for Pigeon Forge and Dollywood, but misleading when presenting the program as a "reality" show. It's not. It's just bad, bad retroscripting. The trick with retroscripting is that you actually need actors--good ones--to pull it off. Outsider's Inn is sadly lacking in that department and many others.

Everyone in town was excited this June while it was in principal photography out at Christopher Place. But if you've watched the programming on CMT, it shouldn't have been a surprise that the channel that brings us My Big Redneck Wedding, makes its bread and butter from exploiting Southern stereotypes and mocking its fan base should do anything different with Cocke County.

My sister tells this story about how embarrassed she would be when her dates came to pick her up at our grandparent's house. Mutt and Papa loved Hee-Haw. They were also quite deaf so they kept the volume turned up on the TV really loud. Outsiders Inn is going for that Hee Haw vibe. The problem is that it doesn't have the astounding brilliance of the Grand Ole Opry talent behind it. There really isn't any talent to speak of. Hemorrhoids just aren't that funny--particularly on Carnie Wilson.

In short, the show is insulting not just to Cocke Countians, but to Appalachian people, Tennesseans and to Southerners in general. It's also insulting because of the amateurish production values. It's the sort of show that is useless for anyone's resume--the sort of show you grab the money then deny like hell you worked on it. It's a truckstop prostitute of a TV program and no one is going to want to admit they had anything to do with it. But if you insist on viewing the Credit Roll of Shame--it can be found on IMDb.

To make matters worse, Cocke County Mayor, Iliff McMahan Jr., willingly cast in the role of hick mayor, was reported by the National Enquirer to have brought quarts of moonshine as gifts to the cast members. I would have to consume way too much untaxed liquor to blab to the Enquirer. No one, thus far, has admitted to being the Enquirer's source.

Cocke County needs to dust themselves off from this bad experience. It's okay to be outraged but realize the insult was far broader than just Cocke County. CMT needs to stick with the music--or at least revamp its sixty years out-of-date image of what country music entertainment and its fans look like. Last I checked, overalls and checked shirts were not involved.

Back when I was working in the film industry, we had this thing we'd say when a set-up was going overlong or we were losing light.

Let's shoot this puppy before it turns into a dog.

Outsiders Inn was barking in pre-production--why didn't anyone hear it?

More Reviews and Articles:

KnoxNews Review

Johnson: 'Outsiders Inn' out of bounds in Appalachia

Enquirer's mayor and moonshine article attracts attention

From The Smokey Mountain Breakdown

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Summertime Reward

Swimming under the Cascades of Giles County, Virginia provides instant relief from the two mile hike in the summer heat.