That's right - tease you with them all over again in our look back at the best 'Only in Japan' items of 2007.
Monday, December 31, 2007
That's right - tease you with them all over again in our look back at the best 'Only in Japan' items of 2007.
I was barely sitting down when I heard a voice from the other stall saying: "Hi, how are you?"
I'm not the type to start a conversation in the men's restroom but I don't know what got into me, so I answered, somewhat embarrassed, "Doin' just fine!"
And the other guy says: "So what are you up to?"
What kind of question is that? At that point, I'm thinking this is too bizarre so I say: "Uhhh, I'm like you, just travelling!"
At this point I am just trying to get out as fast as I can when I hear another question. "Can I come over?"
Ok, this question is just too weird for me but I figured I could just be polite and end the conversation. I tell him, "No........I'm a little busy right now!!!"
Then I hear the guy say nervously...
"Listen, I'll have to call you back. There's an idiot in the other stall who keeps answering all my questions!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Tuesday night, whilst wandering the now sanitized-to-Disney-proportions streets of Times Square in New York City, I was accosted by a dancing toilet.
No, I was not doing anything illicit. There was an actual dancing toilet taking pictures with passersby and inviting me into a building to use one of Charmin’s remarkably clean restrooms opened just for the holidays in Times Square. I had seen the story of this attraction in “traditional” media coverage some weeks ago - they even hired ex-SNLer Molly Shannon to add her B-list star power to the clean potty project.
What I found was far more remarkable than the summary I had seen. The experience P&G has created educates about product differentiation, creates an emotional brand connection, and exposes the user to a host of ancillary brands (Puffs with Vicks to calm your nose, Bounty paper towels, Kohler toilets, etc.) It’s set up like a theme ride experience - you take escalators up and weave though a roped off lines and everyone you meet is wearing Charmin gear and SO CHEERY. They have both Extra Strong & Extra Soft paper in the stall and ask you to vote for your favorite when you get out. Then you can jump on one of a number dioramas with the Charmin bear and take your picture. You can even get on stage and do the Charmin dance with friends or sit down and take a load off by a fireplace. Click here for a YouTube video of the full experience.
Earlier this week, the New York Times mentioned the Charmin project in a roundup article about Times Square as a magnet for experimental marketing. P&G has gotten 2 major waves of lift from the Charmin restrooms. In addition to all the individual experiences they create for anyone going in person, they had over 100 traditional media stories pickup the project and now are seeing a second wave of social media. Because this is so remarkable and designed with so many photo ops, when you type “Charmin” into Flickr, you get more than 1200 uploads. That YouTube video I linked to above has been seen more than 1300 times! Not bad at all for toilet paper...
Charmin’s Lesson on Being Photogenic
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Look closely at a Nativity scene in the Catalan region of Spain, and you’re likely in for a surprise.
Hidden somewhere — away from the manger and the prying eyes of shepherd and magi — there’s probably a little guy in a red cap. He’s squatting and … well, he’s defecating. Taking a little poop. Or perhaps a rather large one.
You’ve found the caganer: the crapper.
A Spanish Tradition
It’s rude, earthy, and distinctly Catalan. The market stalls of Barcelona are crammed with caganer figurines, squatting shamelessly alongside statues of St. Francis and the Holy Family. Parties are held where guests are invited to find the cagoner in the family creche. Not even the Roman Catholic Church dares to suppress the custom on its own grounds.
People have tried. In 2005, Barcelona passed an ordinance banning the caganer in public displays. It was rescinded by the following Christmas.
The origins of the custom are obscure. Some authorities suggest the caganer started showing his bum in the 18th century. It’s quite possible the caganer has been around a century or two longer. Ask five Spaniards what the caganer actually means, and you’ll be given five different answers. Perhaps it is a reminder of humankind’s ultimate lowliness. Or the juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane. Maybe Catalans just appreciate a good laugh over the holidays.
There’s certainly a satire element. Starting in the early 20th century, the traditional red-capped caganer started to be replaced by figurines of well-known politicians, entertainers — even clergy. King Juan Carlos is captured doing his royal business. George W. Bush squats with a globe in his hand. Pope Benedict gives ex cathedra a whole new meaning.
More from The Crapping Christmas Statues of Catalonia
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
It is an open secret that people read in the bathroom, and books are a common Christmas gift. But a holiday sales pitch for books to read in the bathroom seemed to me to be particularly indelicate.
"Bathroom Readers' Institute and Portable Press offer just the ticket for those who plan on using the bathroom this holiday season," the news release began, trumpeting the arrival of the 20th anniversary edition of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
There is a kids' version, too, titled "Uncle John's Under the Slimy Sea Bathroom Reader for Kids Only," which struck me as an unfortunate title, bringing to mind some kind of sewage spill.
But you can't argue with success, and the Uncle John series of bathroom readers has sold more than 7 million copies in the past two decades, according to Uncle John himself, Gordon Javna.
"Well, I am an uncle," said Javna from the Oregon offices of Bathroom Readers' Institute. "The 'John' part is a bathroom pun. We go for as many of those as we possibly can." The institute isn't exactly an institute, either. It is Javna and "a crack research staff" of six who gather goofy tidbits year-round to fill the annual Bathroom Reader, which is 600 pages this year.
Javna said he and his brother came up with the idea in 1987.
"These kinds of books are fun to read anywhere. But we realized this was a niche that nobody had recognized. We didn't know how successful it would be," Javna said. "It is one of the longest-running active book series out there."
I guess there are no taboo subjects for publication these days, but since surveys indicate that most people close the bathroom door even when they are home alone, it seems that the majority of us are still reluctant to reveal everything that goes on behind that door.
A discreet selection of magazines and catalogs serves as an unspoken acknowledgment of the facts in this matter. But putting a book in the powder room with an illustration of toilet paper on the cover seems over the top.
Most of these bathroom books -- and there have been dozens of imitators since the Uncle John series debuted -- are collections of trivia, lists, jokes, urban myths and little-known facts.
In other words, random, tidbit knowledge.
Although we spend something like 35 minutes a day in the bathroom, that is apparently not enough time to finish a New Yorker essay or a Vanity Fair article.
"We started with dumb crooks, odd quotations and weird news," Javna said. "Those kinds of things are now franchises for other people. We've had to innovate."
Despite its impressive length, I am not sure Uncle John's Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader would earn me the esteem of even my most loyal friends.
Other bathroom facts, many of which are recorded in these bathroom companions: Men are more likely than women to read in the bathroom, as are people with advanced degrees; newspapers are the most popular reading materials, although a segment of the population goes through its bills in the bathroom.
It is interesting to see the impact of technology on all this: Apparently the most common BlackBerry repair results from a fall in the toilet.
And the "smart homes" built by the tech-savvy now include flat-screen TVs that double as shaving mirrors and wireless access in the bathroom, which means you can probably download books to your Kindle there.
We have certainly come a long way from The Old Farmer's Almanac, which used to serve two purposes in the old outhouse.
But I am not sure I consider it progress when we become a target audience while sitting in that last private place.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Coll Bell was ordered by Auckland Regional Council to commission an expert to assess the psychological impact on the tiger worms.
The "wormorator" is an alternative to septic tanks
A council official told him: "You have to have someone with the qualifications to say the worms are happy," he told the Sunday Star Times.
The official felt the worms could be left traumatised, given that their sole task in life was to process human faeces.
"[She] felt that it could affect them in a psychological way," Mr Bell told the newspaper.
"I said, 'Well, what do I do about that?' and she said, 'You have to have someone with the necessary qualifications to say the worms are happy'."
His "wormorator", an alternative to septic tanks, was only approved after a vermiculture expert reported the worms were in excellent health and breeding happily.
In Mr Bell's invention, the long-suffering worms filter solids from toilet waste, with the leftover water being filtered into underground trenches.
A council spokeswoman said concern for the worms' welfare was justified because the system was going to be used at a campground where sewage flowed heavily for two weeks each year but dried up the rest of the time - meaning the worms might be left short of nourishment.
Toilet worms may be down in the dumps
In other news, 40% of Japanese men sit down to pee, survey shows.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
The first problem is the way the chain is attached to the lever. A simple metal clip goes through a hole in the arm and a ring on the end of the chain. Every so often either the chain or the lever will slip out of the clip, disconnecting the mechanism. Usually the chain will fall into the valve and prevent it from closing.
The other problem is that the chain is long enough to become hooked under the valve's hinge, jamming everything up.
If I wasn't a looser renter I'd replace the whole setup with something that works better.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Toilet Paper by ~akindo
In toilet paper news :
Sonia and her sister, Tonia Lee were trying to have a normal school week but things changed Monday afternoon. The sisters apparently were using toilet tissue, like most young women, to enhance their bra cup size. After having the contaminated tissue on their skin for hours at school andover the weekend, their skin started to itch and break out. The younger sister, Tonia, was the first to feel the effects early in the day on Monday and had to be rushed to the Nurse's Office.
Toilet Paper by ~albienkiac