Friday, May 16, 2008


The short film above is William Eliott Whitmore singing "Dry." Have you seen this?

If you live on the north side of Chicago and you have cable, you might have noticed a few strange commercials on the air. They don't actually try to sell you anything, I guess, unless you are in that particular niche of the post-production industry that uses the services of a company like my husband's... Some have the feel of a Saturday Night Live fake ad, some show dreamy experimental images without an obvious point. The one thing all the 30-second spots all have in common is a quick tag at the end with the word, "Optimus." That's my husband's company and the Opti-TV project is his baby.

Randy works in advertising and he's surrounded by insanely creative and hyper people with boatloads of talent and wry and warped ways of looking at the world so he had a little brainstorm a couple of years ago - he asked the people who work with him if they wanted to make their own 30 second commercials, and if they did, what would they look like? Well it turned out they looked pretty cool.

But Randy took it another step farther. He actually went and bought airtime on a local cable station.

The spots have already prompted complaints and at least one that aired during a Cubs game has been pulled off the air. (The offending ad - for a fake gastro-intestinal relief product called "Anucile" - in truth does beg for a Funny or Die audience rather than the families that tune in to baseball games.)

When I picture the pie chart in my husband's head breaking down the motivations for this whole project, I see thin slices of "Loves a Good Practical Joke," "Supports the Arts," "Irreverence" and "A Nice Perk for Employees," then one enormous slice of "I Heart Absurdity."

You can see all the spots here. Click on a spot title, then pick one of the options for "play movie."

Don't miss "Pikipiki" by Sarah Slevin. Other oldies but goodies include "Beware the Trappings of Leisure" from November 2005 and my dear husband's "Avian Flu" with music by Bruce Lash.

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