Freeze Frame 

(NOT) MUST-SEE TV

I had a dream last week, a nightmare really, about being chased and then eaten alive. Sounds like a scene from Night of the Living Dead? Yep. But that's not the weird part.

That night I did indeed watch for the first time the 1968 George Romero cult classic, about a radioactive force that turns all of the recently deceased into stalking, unrelenting ghouls who eat people. But in the dream, I was Christopher Hitchens, the author of God Is Not Great and who, in his book The Missionary Position, about Mother Teresa, called the saint "The Ghoul of Calcutta."

Is there something in common between these "ghouls"? I don't know. It was a nightmare for Chrissakes.

Anyway, the point is how I watched the movie. I didn't rent it. I downloaded it using a program called Miro, one of many kinds of new technology with the potential to change how we experience television. It allows you to connect with any website that streams RSS video feeds — from the Discovery Channel and Comedy Central to publications, like Seed and Vogue magazines, to dozens of independent media providers: Atom Films (arty shorts), VJ Kungfu (video performance art), even SargeNation (a user-generated guide to picking up chicks).

There are over 3,000 channels to choose from. Miro is one of many such programs that are making trouble for mainstream TV. There's Joost. It connects users to streaming video. And Zattoo. It's similar to Miro and Joost, only it's portable. It's getting to the point where I haven't watched my regular TV in a while. Given this new competition from Web 2.0, along with slumping ratings among the Big 5 and a robust writer's strike, perhaps I'm not the only one having nightmares. —John Stoehr

THE MERKIN MAN

The day is finally set for the premiere of The Merkin Man, a spoof on human-interest TV specials about a man who makes merkins out of Spanish moss. Just so you know, a merkin is a wig made out of pubic hair that people wore in the 18th century to cover up hair loss due to venereal disease. Usually, they were prostitutes. The movie, directed by local poet and filmmaker Devin Dukes, has nothing to do with pubic hair but a lot to do with farce: A news crew goes to Johns Island to interview a man named Justice, who has identified a market for Spanish moss wigs. Tourists will love them, he says. Maybe balding whores, too.

Check out the whole charade on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Walnut Hill Barn, 3951 Betsy Kerrison Blvd., Johns Island. For more information, go to www.themerkinman.com. ­—John Stoehr


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