When success equals failure


I’m not trying to use Orwellian doublespeak on you, I promise. I have to tell you about my toilet troubles.

Wait, where are you going? Why are you running away with a disgusted look on your—oh, I get it. I just said that sentence out loud. No, this won’t be a story about bodily functions. My toilet tank got a crack and a leak.

And after an unsuccessful attempt to cheaply patch it with silicone goop, I escalated the repair process. Time to replace the tank!

You may not have delved into the exciting world of uncertainty that is household repairs, so let me tell you it is maddening. I live in a 50 year old town house. It is made almost entirely of poured concrete, so you can’t move pipes or drains. My toilets are also 50 years old, and are special models to accommodate the aforementioned drain restrictions. Is it easy to find a replacement tank for a specialty toilet from the Seventies? GOOD GOD NO.

But I thought it would be easy, so I tried it. Bought a tank, got it home, realized it wouldn’t fit, and had a little cry. Then I went back to the internet, furiously googling in search of a hail mary solution. Nothing.

So I steeled myself for an in-person interaction with a gruff plumber, and went down to the plumbing supply store. I walked in and boldly admitted that I was stumped and needed help. I had a suspicion about the answer I was going to receive, but I held out hope.

Hope denied. The gruff plumber humouring my request broke the news to me without hesitation. “You’re not gonna find a replacement tank for that” he said after taking one look at the photo of my old weird toilet. The good news is that they can order and install a new specialty toilet for me, for the heart-attack-inducing price of $1000. Thousand dollar toilet??? And it doesn’t play music or automatically bathe your nethers clean???


My inclination is to put this in the ‘loss’ column and feel bad about failing, but I am attempting to adjust my perspective. I put in the work, I researched, and I reached out to an expert. These are all successes.

And the end result is that I have successfully identified that this repair is outside of my ability to address. I could have chosen to avoid the expert, tried another tank that would not have fit, all the while wasting time and money. Instead, I will mark this as a victory, congratulate myself for an exemplary effort, and head down to the corner to dance for nickels. Thousand dollar toilets don’t pay for themselves.



5 of my favourite Star Wars moments

I have now seen Rise of Skywalker, and it certainly is an ending. I appreciate how impossible the task was, to wrap up a 9 movie series (or 11 movies+countless other official Star Wars projects). No matter what road they took, at least 30% of the fans would hate it. They made their choices, they finished the story arc, and we can move on with our lives if we want.

Yeah, yeah I could get up on my critical high horse and complain about all the things in ROS and the SW series in general that I didn’t like. It’s easy to criticize (fun too!) but ultimately complaining about things leads to a bad vibe that I want less of in my life. Turn it around, and instead of emphasizing the negative, I’m going to celebrate the positive.

Fair warning though: these moments are being filtered through my particular way of seeing things, and they may have nothing to do with the original intent of the scene. So here we go with 5 of my favourite scenes.

#1: Restorin’ order with the Vader (Empire Strikes Back)


This scene defines Vader as I imagine him. He’s pleading with his son to join with him so that they can restore order to the galaxy. Not for personal reward, but for the good of the galaxy. This doesn’t mean that Vader isn’t evil. No no. He’s decided that the ends justify the means, and those means are villainous. But he believes (or tells himself, anyway) that the cost is worth paying, if it ends the chaos gripping the galaxy. What if he has spent years trying to persuade the Jedi to step in and end the chaos, only to watch them smugly stay un-involved as regular people suffer? What if, in desperation, he decided that the only way to end the chaos was to become a Sith Lord so that he could gain enough strength to kill the Emperor?

#2 Han knows the score (A New Hope)


Han. Shoots. First. Sorry Greedo, but he knew what you were going to do and that the only way to stay out of Jabba’s clutches was to blast your scaly ass from under the table. Han’s not big on the noble ideals of fair fights and honorable duels. He is a big fan of staying alive.

#3 Finn’s moment of clarity (The Force Awakens)


“This is wrong.” This is the sudden realization that Finn has, an epiphany that breaks the programming that has been brainwashed into him since childhood. The trouble is, it doesn’t all of the programming. He still believes that the First Order is unbeatable and omnipotent. He is caught in a crisis of identity. Finn is driven by the trauma he’s experienced and is reacting accordingly. He is terrified of them, and so he runs.

#4 Rey is nobody (the Last Jedi)

rey-nobody-nowhereI loved this moment for a bunch of different reasons. The despair of learning that you are alone and disconnected from any sense of identity that comes from family is Dark Side seduction at its finest. It subverts the audience’s expectations and challenges them to think about what it would mean if Rey was a powerful nobody. The force does not care who your parents were. It also deflates the ‘divine right of kings’ motif of Force power, where only the elite families have a connection to the force. And it contrasts with Kylo Ren’s massive sense of entitlement due to his lineage.

#5 Rey and Kylo kick ass together. (The Last Jedi)


The fight in Snoke’s throne room, after the lumpy villain has been killed, is my very favourite lightsaber battle. It is visceral and raw. There is a complete absence of nonsense gymnastics. And the uneasy and uncertain alliance between Rey and Kylo is communicated clearly despite the lack of dialogue.


BONUS CONTENT- Your reward for reading the whole post!

My ranking of the Star Wars movies (except Solo because I have not gotten around to seeing it), from best to worst.

#1 The Last Jedi

#2 Empire Strikes Back

#3 The Force Awakens

#4 A New Hope

#5 Return of the Jedi

#6 Rise of Skywalker

#7 Rogue One

(this is a space to prepare myself for ranking the utter garbage that is the prequels. Ok, I think I’m ready)

#8 Attack of the Clones (Only positive is Natalie Portman in her sexy stormtrooper outfit)

#9 Phantom Menace

#10 Revenge of the Sith, a movie so bad that I will eventually write fan fiction with my version of events.





Loblaw Versus the Yakuza


Who fights in slacks? This guy!

No, I am not feuding with the organized crime families of Japan (or anywhere else, for that matter). My battle is with the long-running Yakuza video game series. There are 7 games that exist so far (Yakuza 1-6, plus a prequel called Yakuza 0), with Yakuza 7 coming out next year. And I am going to play them all. Hundreds of hours playing strange Japanese video games, for no reason other than amusement. I use my time well. (For the record, I am pretending that hearing all of the Japanese dialogue while reading the english subtitles counts as some kind of language immersion.)

How this nonsense quest got started

I didn’t think I was going to like Yakuza Zero when I picked it up. Fighting games are far too complicated and precise for my button-mashing inclinations, and fighting is the heart of the Yakuza combat system. But I was riding high on the bliss that another weird Japanese video game (Persona 5) brought to my life, so I gambled and bought Yakuza Zero from a secondhand store.

And I did indeed suck at the combat. Mash mash MASH! That’s my secret technique. I barely managed to develop a minimum level of skill to make it through the fights. But everything outside of the fighting was delightfully confusing and strange.

I do not understand Japan and that is OK.

The cultural differences between my Canadian frame of reference and the digital simulation of Japanese life are baffling. I have no idea what parts are true to reality and what bits are just video game nonsense. Do actual Yakuza members fight while wearing suits? I don’t know! Do men and women go to host/hostess clubs to pay someone to chat and flirt with them? It appears so!

The whole series is a melodramatic gangster story, full of crime and violence, set in the seamy red light district of Kamurocho. Kamurocho is a ficionalized version of an area of Tokyo called Kabukichō, and it is a faithful enough recreation that I think I could find my way around it (were I ever to overcome my embarrassment at finding myself in a red light district in a foreign country)

The actual district

And in between the overwrought dramatic moments of criminal misdeeds (betrayal! double betrayal! TRIPLE DOUBLE CROSS BETRAYAL!!) there are a wealth of ridiculous distractions to pursue: Golf, batting cages, slot car racing,singing Karaoke, managing a hostess club, eating at restaurants, trying and failing to learn mahjong/shogi/a half-dozen other games I’ve never played.  I’ve chased a man’s toupee through the streets as the wind mischievously blows it away, while he hides in an alley because he’s famous and hiding his baldness from his fans.

Delightfully Inconsistent

During the fights, Kiryu-San can use special power attacks that are incredibly violent, like stabbing his opponent with a hunting knife, then driving his knee into the butt of the knife to drive it deeper into the poor sucker’s gut. I see you flinching and looking worried that I may like violence too much. Do not worry! As soon as the fight is over, you’ll see your hero Kiryu standing and lecturing the opponent who is slightly winded but otherwise unharmed. That knife wound was symbolic, I guess. As was the damage from powerbombing the guy directly onto his head.

kiryu heart
Kiryu-San posing for a romantic photo shoot.

And did I mention the dating simulator? Yes, in the middle of living his life of danger and intrigue, the main character Kazuma Kiryu still takes time to go bowling with one of his potential girlfriends. And your reward for successfully wooing a lady is that she will look at you longingly and maybe hold your hand. Surprisingly chaste for a game set in the red light district.


So long story short, I am going to wade through all 8 games. I will avoid the main plot quests for as long as I can. I will sing, and date, and race cars, and run a successful business, and solve the countless minor problems of the good people of Kamurocho (and Sotenbori and wherever the new game is set). And I’ll probably blog about it along the way.