Thursday, November 17, 2005



When Japanese lavatory engineers, clearly thinking outside the stall, came up several years ago with a talking toilet which admonishes males to raise and lower the seat and to mind their aim, I thought we had reached the height of annoying restroomal intrusion. Just what the world needs, I mused: a toilet that gives US shit. But then, more recently, I chanced upon the Wizmark "interactive urinal communicator," an electronic, motion-activated urinal drain cover that, when you stand in to take a leak, automatically lights up, begins displaying a series of visual stills, and delivers a spoken message. To be specific, a spoken advertising message.

Yes, the unthinkably inevitable has finally come to pass. The bastards are now running commercials in urinals. And why not? God knows there is no more captive audience than a male in mid-stream. As irritatingly invasive as this concept is, however, it's hard to work up a serious outrage over it. First, because you have to pity any advertiser who thinks that associating its product with the act of pissing into a public receptacle will be a net plus. And second, we can at last satisfy that long-held desire to literally piss on a commercial without shorting out our TV.


While we’re on the topic of subject commode association, say hello to the Sound Princess, a device consisting of a sensor in a public restroom stall which, when you hold your hand over it, triggers the sound of water flowing quite loudly. It is designed to be used to mask the embarrassing sound of the body's emissions during defecation, and is marketed to schools, shopping centers and white collar workplaces in Japan, where the act of elimination is evidently a far more engrossing and challenging phenomenon, and where the Sound Princess has already sold over half a million units.

The manufacturers see enormous possibilities for their product in the USA, but before you send in your application for a distributorship, consider three drawbacks. First, unlike Japan, in America we are as likely to take pride in our window-rattlers as we are to be mortified. Second, the Sound Princess does nothing about the telltale and even more offensive aromas that result. And third, the flowing water just replaces one dead-giveaway noise with another. "Ralph must have had burritos for lunch again, the goddam executive washroom sounds like Niagara Falls."


Blogger ....J.Michael Robertson said...

Hmmmmm. When they develop Honus, the Talking Penis, get back to me. Because Honus is not going to take these unsubstantiated claim lying down.

Hanging down? I would seem to be caught in a metaphorical cleft stick.

November 17, 2005 at 8:11 PM  

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