Show #039: By Gum, So Can You

kohlerThe thirty-ninthst episode of our podcast, Paul and Storm Talk About Some Stuff for Five to Ten Minutes (On Average), is now online.

This week’s episode: Far too much time discussing toilets, toilet seats, and Japanese toilet technology; the culture of shame; a surprise gift from Storm’s cat; Storm’s complicated, avian relationship with Los Angeles; and happy, incontinent men on television.

Featured post-show song: “Toilet Seat” – Wayne Resnick’s Trigger Finger

Show #039: Show #039: By Gum, So Can You (Some content NSFW)


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  1. Posted May 12, 2009 at 3:58 am | Permalink

    The fanciest toilet we have in America is probably the TwoDaLoo, sadly.

    I’ll have you know that I have used the fancy Asian toilets (in my case, Korean) – sparing any detail, they are actually very refreshing. You exit the stall feeling like a whole new person.

    It took us about a week to get over our fear of the control panel.

  2. Posted May 12, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I agree with Molly about the toilets being a changing experience (though the ones I experienced were in Japan, not Korea).

    As far as your question about why Japan has the cool toilets with the fun gadgets and we don’t, I think I can help explain (a little). Disclaimer: I’m not an expert, and I’m speaking in generalizations here, but this is what I remember about the topic from one of my Japanese history classes in college.

    It’s nothing new that the Japanese are leaps and bounds ahead of the West when it comes to toilet technology; it’s been that way for a long time. A lot of this stems from the way we (as cultures) view/handle our waste. In Tokugawa Japan, bodily wastes were collected and used as fertilizers. People made money off of what they did naturally. Contrast that with Europe at the same time, where bodily waste was tossed into streets, dumped in rivers, etc. So, while the West viewed poo as something to get rid of, people in Japan saw it as a useful commodity, and used it to make money. As a result, their latrines evolved into more sophisticated receptacles to help with collection. (And their streets were cleaner, people got sick less often and had longer life expectancies).

    The other part of it is the cultural/spiritual importance of cleanliness. This can be found in many parts of modern Japanese culture, but relevant to your toilet talk, you can see this in the toilets themselves with their fancy bidets, sprays of air and perfumes. This, again, is nothing new. Visitors to Japan in the late 16th/early 17th centuries wrote about the “perfume pans” and men who would come clean the privies after each use to make them appear fresh and new. This idea of cleanliness was even reinforced with the idea of kawaya kami (roughly “toilet god”). Because there was this spiritual aspect related to toilets, it was important that toilets themselves (and the whole process of using them) be very clean. This has spilled over into modern times with the doodads on the toilets, the use of toilet shoes, and the separation of toilets from bathtubs in people’s homes. That’s not to say that in the West we don’t care about being clean, but it’s not rooted as deeply in our culture.

    I would suggest reading Susan B. Hanley’s book Everyday Things in Premodern Japan for a more complete (and expert) explanation than I can fit here in this comment.

  3. Ryan
    Posted May 12, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Is there any plan in the future to do a show somewhere near Chicago?

  4. Sandy
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if this is better or worse, but the little turd by the toilet was likely a digleberry that happened to fall off there, not something deliberate.

  5. Robin
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Wow, Erin. That was so… historical. 🙂 [/Browncoat]

    The perky people in medication commercials have always weirded me out a little. It all started with the Happy Herpes Girl (TM), but now we have people who are excited about having everything from allergies to incontinence to osteoporosis. Between that and 2/3 of the length being taken up by side-effect voiceovers, I really hope I never need any of these drugs.

  6. Ann
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Or maybe Cougar has become jealous of Reinhold’s sudden and startling rise to fame (Videos! Youtube! Facebook!) and he is farking with you to get attention. MAYBE getting mentioned on the podcast is the start of his devious plan to rocket to stardom in front of his sibling.

    or maybe I need to stop talking now…whichever.

  7. Posted May 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    @Robin (or should I call you Kaylee?): There’s a reason I’m Studious Minion. 😉

  8. Posted May 13, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Meh. The intertubes ate my comment. (Maybe because it was full of links?)

    As an LA native, I’m curious to know what your favorite LA restaurants are. Some recommendations (w/out links this time): Phillipe’s near downtown for French dip and spicy house mustard, The Hat in Pasadena for Pastrami, Moun of Tunis on Sunset Blvd. for Moroccan, Tam O’Shanter in Los Feliz for prime rib, Tom Bergin’s Tavern on Fairfax for pub food and drinks, Tito’s Tacos on Washington Pl., the oldest remaining Bob’s Big Boy in the US (Burbank), the oldest remaining McDonald’s in the US (Downey), and of course, In-N-Out Burger. (I grew up near the original In-N-Out in Baldwin Park. Now they’re everywhere.)

    If you’re staying anywhere near Culver City and have some time to kill, you might check out the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a modern “cabinet of curiosities” featuring an eclectic mix of things scientific, historical and whimsical. (Maybe even cryptozoological.)

    Finally, I’m a little surprised (maybe even disappointed?) that you didn’t play Styx’s “Plexiglas Toilet” for your post-show song – Styx fans that you are.

    Enjoy your visit to my hometown. I’ll see you guys on Thursday AND Sunday. 🙂

  9. Posted May 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    P.S. I’m now imposing a moratorium on myself for parenthetical “maybe” phrases. (Maybe later?)

  10. Posted May 27, 2009 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I’m catching up on my podcasts today and heard the ref to Monster By Mail. As Storm was talking about the zu zu bird, I was thinking, “I should draw that.” I think I will draw it if I can. Later today.

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