Heart’s Stairway Cover Doesn’t Miss a Beat


You just can’t argue with a classic song like Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. I still love the original but now whenever I hear the song it makes me think of this incredible performance by Heart at the Kennedy Center Honors night a few years ago:

This is an epic cover of an epic song and this clip is wonderful for many reasons.

First of all, why is this song so enduring? It’s considered one of the best rock songs of all time. But it’s eight minutes long! And what does it even mean?

Who’s this lady shopping after hours and what’s she got to do with this piper guy? How did we end up in the forest?

I love this in-depth analysis of the song’s meaning on Schmoop:

“Stairway to Heaven” plays out as a kind of spirit quest, a journey into a quasi-mythical, pagan past through music. The classical guitar and lyrics recall Romantic poets like Keats as nature itself becomes a voice of truth whispering in the distance. The song’s key thematic element — a journey in search of meaning in a world of ambiguity — is emphasized by the constant evolution of the song as it, too, searches for an adequate voice. When that voice finally seems to be found — in Jimmy Page’s soaring guitar solo, which starts almost six minutes into the piece — it is ritualistically and gloriously prefaced by a fanfare…

Oh baby, I love it when you talk sort of quasi-academic to me.

The lyrics take us from the store, to the manicured hedge, to the wild windy forest. The old world folksy flute and acoustic guitar shift to a wailing electric guitar solo of industrial proportions. The single voice becomes a chorus, and the narrator becomes a piper who’s going to show us the way. The sad and possibly corrupt woman is replaced by a mythical goddess. This song has a lot going on.

This tribute performance is special because Jason Bonham is on drums. He’s the son of John Bohham, the original drummer for Led Zeppelin who died in 1980, just 9 years after the song Stairway to Heaven was released.

Plus how can you not ♥️ Heart? Barracuda, anyone? Apparently they were a hit in Canada before they made it big in the US even though they’re from Seattle.

Ann Wilson absolutely kills it with the vocals here and, dare I say it, her throaty roaring gives Robert Plant’s original vocal track a run for its money.

In fact it’s such a mindblowing performance that it brings Robert Plant himself to tears. I’d say that’s a pretty solid win right there.


Besides the incredible talent, the full orchestra, the gigantic choir and all of the elements of the performance that brought the house down, this clip has something unexpected. Comedy.

Check out the audience. Look at everybody’s well-tamed excitement as they try to rock out in their tightly buttoned tuxes. You get the strong sense that Barack Obama is doing his best not to break out into the Carleton dance:





Here’s a short demonstration on the appropriate way to listen to Stairway to Heaven:





KT in Disneyland


Right before my trip to Disneyland, I was asked who my favourite Disney character is. I had to think about it. I was never much of a princess wanna-be. I remembered the old Goofy cartoons cracking me up as a kid so Goofy seemed like a good choice.

Upon further thought, and having just celebrated Halloween, I think I need to change my mind.

Chernabog is probably my favourite Disney character:

This guy knows how to throw a party! No offense, Goofy.

Bert and Ernie Spend Some Time Apart

My husband is the Ernie to my Bert. I’m the introvert, and he’s the guy with a banana in his ear. He keeps me laughing, keeps me on my toes, and never misses an opportunity to prank me good.

I was out of town recently and while I was gone we each kept a stuffed toy version of the other to keep us company. We kept each other posted with photo updates, and the results were…well, see for yourself.

The First Night


“Ahh, finally some peace and quiet.”

With Ernie out of town, Bert can eat anything he wants. “Time for some lumpy oatmeal!”


Bert decides to watch a scary movie…

…and pig out on movie munchies.

Bert gets scared and hides under the couch. “Oh boy. I wish Ernie was here.”


Ernie watches Orange Is The New Black. He is a little embarrassed. “Bert! There’s so much nudity, Bert!”

Ernie Is The New Black!

Bed time. Ernie sets up a nightlight…

…and sleeps like a baby.

Rise And Shine

The next day…

Ernie hums to himself while trying to style his unruly hair.

“I look great, though I do say so myself.”

“Hey Bert, how do you like my glasses? Do they make me look smarter?”

Back at the Bertcave…

“You brush your teeth, ch ch-ch ch, ch-ch ch-ch ch…

“Bert, you handsome devil. You look fantastic.”

Bert doesn’t know he has toilet paper stuck to his foot. “Today is going to be a great day, I can feel it!”

A Busy Day

Ernie loves being on vacation!

Ernie catches a train. “I hope I get a window seat!”

Ernie does some light reading.

Ernie appreciates some art.

Ernie gets together with friends.

Poor Bert is stuck at his day job.

Going down.

Bert waits for the bus. “Another day, another dollar.”

At least he can chitchat with his coworkers.

Bert finally heads home after a long day.

Dinner and Drinks

“Ugh, who put ketchup on my pasta? Only Bert eats it like that!” Bert learned everything he knows about cooking from Oscar the Grouch.

Bert, on the other hand, thinks he is a pretty good cook.

Dinnertime! “Good thing I spent all day ironing my apron.”

“Mmm, chocolate milk goes well with peppermint oyster stew, right?”

“Wait, what’s this?”

“Well this ended badly.” Bert is a bit of a lightweight.

The Last Day

While Ernie prepares to return from his trip…

Laundry time.

Waiting at the train station. “Hey Bert, this lounge sure is swell!”

…Bert enjoys his last hours of freedom while he still can.

Bert goes on a bender. “YOLO.”

…and decides to try Koalaback riding for the first time.

Together Again

Ernie and Bert are both glad to be back under one roof.

“I missed you Bert.” “I missed you too Ernie.” D’aww.

Why I Can’t Be Silent About #CorneredInOttawa


When I heard about Luke Howard harassing and secretly video taping women in Ottawa, and the Twitter response on #CorneredInOttawa, I had to jump in.

“Pickup artist” videos are all over YouTube and easy to find. Most are sad attempts by men to out-peacock each other and dominate as many female victims as possible to prove how much of a “player” they are. Like Luke Howard, they often use the excuse that it’s to help teach guys how to get over social anxiety. They secretly film women, try to get their phone numbers, and try to “score” as much physical contact as they can by whatever means necessary including coercion and harassment. They call it things like “Day Game” and brag about doing these things “in broad daylight.”

I was never approached by Luke Howard, but I can relate to what being harassed and intimidated feels like. And I know how important it is to hear, validate, and support the women who he’s preyed upon.

This goes beyond one creepy guy in one city.

“Pickup artist” type harassment is just one example of what many women deal with throughout their lives whether it’s recorded on video or not.

It’s a difficult thing to explain. So, to illustrate, here are a few examples of things I’ve personally experienced throughout my pretty average life.

When I was a little kid, someone standing behind me touched and stroked my head and body in a crowded room during a public meeting. I was too afraid to turn around to find out who was touching me.

When I was in elementary school, an older boy I didn’t recognize stalked me on his bike as I walked home from school one day. He kept riding around the block to pass me again and again, glaring at me. As I finally approached my street (1 km away from my school), I could see through a patch in the trees that he was sitting on his bike waiting. As I got closer he spotted me and rode past me one last time, muttering something at me. I couldn’t make out what he said, but I could tell it wasn’t friendly.

When I was a university student, a drunk guy I didn’t know put his arms around me as I was trying to let myself into my apartment building. His friend pulled him back and apologized for his behaviour, even as the guy continued to try to reach out and grab me. Both guys came into the building with me and as they got in the elevator the drunk guy tried to convince me to come over for drinks. I declined and took the stairs so they wouldn’t find out what floor I lived on.

When I was in my 20’s, a man I worked for sexually harassed me. He found excuses for us to be alone in the office together so he could say and do things he wouldn’t have, had there been others to witness it. At the same job, another male coworker asked me in front of other staff if I would clean his house for him. He was serious, and offered to pay me.

When I was in my 20’s, a man I was sitting across from on a crowded commuter train touched his toe against mine. I pulled my foot back. He touched my foot again with his. I moved my feet as far away as I could, but he would move his foot closer to keep touching my foot. I sat there, uncomfortable, questioning whether it was really on purpose, or if I should say something. And then it went from a touch to a stroke. He was stroking my toe with his shoe. I was horrified, but paralyzed. I didn’t want to cause a scene because – by all outside appearances – he had simply touched my foot on a crowded train. I wanted to scream and punch him in the face, but I just stared out the window. By then we were almost at my stop. I got up to leave and said “excuse me” – he let me pass and I said “thank you” to him. I felt angry at myself that I had not only failed to confront him, but that I had actually thanked him.

When I was in my 20’s, I left a friend’s house late at night to walk home. The clocks had just changed, so instead of leaving her house at at 2:00am, it was now 3:00am. I felt a bit nervous, but it was a safe neighborhood and I didn’t have too far to go. About 1/4 of the way home a cab slowly crawled up to me on a quiet side street. The window came down and the driver asked if I wanted a ride. I said no thanks, I’m fine. He insisted, and eventually offered to give me a ride free of charge because he said he was worried about me walking alone at night. I thanked him and got in. After I told him where I was going, he hit the lock door button and I heard all four of the door locks click closed at once. I suddenly felt uneasy. He drove very slowly, and started asking me personal questions. He asked me if I was single. He asked me if I liked to party. He asked me if I wanted to “party” with him. I wondered if I’d just made the biggest mistake of my life. I told him to stop the cab and let me out. He did.

When I was in my 20’s, a drunk man got on the bus and stood next to my seat even though the bus was mostly empty. He reeked of alcohol. He rubbed his fat belly against my shoulder, pretending that it was the movement of the bus that was pushing him into me. I told him to stop touching me and he moved away.

When I was in my 20’s, a construction worker hollered down at me from the side of a building he was working on. He called me baby and made kissy noises at me while his friends laughed. I gave him the finger and told him to fuck off. Later that evening I was walking back and I saw the same worker coming towards me on the sidewalk. I confronted him. Once he realized I was angry and disgusted, and not trying to get his number, he became embarrassed and quickly crossed the street to get away from me.

When I was in my 20’s, I passed a dirt construction area surrounded by sidewalk. Two giant dumptrucks were parked next to each other and the guys inside were chatting. When they saw me passing by one driver honked the horn and it startled me. They saw me react. Then both trucks laid on the horn full blast for about 20-30 seconds as I walked past them. The noise was deafening but I did my best to ignore them. When they finally stopped I heard them laughing and hollering at me.

When I was in my 20’s, I walked through a short alleyway me and my coworkers often used as a shortcut. I’d walked through 100s of times on my way to work. It was bright and sunny and about 8:45am. As usual, just to be extra careful, I looked ahead to make sure the path was clear and it was. Not even halfway through, a man with some kind of accent (I couldn’t place it) caught up with me from behind and said “Hi” and started a conversation with something like “How are you?” I replied that I was fine, kind of wary but trying to be polite. I can’t remember what else he said but he kept chatting and asking me questions. As we reached the end of the alleyway, I turned the corner to walk up to the front door of my office’s building. There were a few people around the doorway and I met the eyes of a coworker. We exchanged hellos, and in that moment when I was distracted the creepy guy grabbed me around my ribcage for a moment before running away at top speed. It happened so fast I barely had time to process what had happened, and it didn’t fully sink in until later in the day that I was really upset by it. I downplayed the incident, and didn’t report it, and then wrestled with guilt later when I realized that he was likely practicing. It’s probable that this guy escalated to a full sexual assault with someone else.


This isn’t an exhaustive record of all of the harassment I’ve experienced throughout my life, just a few of the more memorable moments.

It doesn’t matter whether all of these violations were legal or illegal. It matters that the guys involved felt comfortable, even justified, in their actions. And that my experiences are not extraordinary – they are to be expected.

I hope this helps to shed some light on why street harassment and “pickup artist” intimidation tactics are so harmful. They represent a small piece of a much larger issue.

Guys. Listen. Being shy can be terrible, yes, but fearing for your personal safety because of your lived experiences as a woman is something else entirely.

Harassing, intimidating, or forcing yourself into a woman’s personal space is never your right. If you’ve been led you to believe that you’re entitled to dominate conversations, physical spaces, or women’s bodies because you are a guy, it’s time to question that assumption. If anything, bullying women just proves you’re desperate.

If you’ve been harassed and want to share your story, check out Hollaback. This organization is working in 92 cities around the world, including Ottawa, to end street harassment. Look up your city and share your story – it might help someone in your neighborhood.

Soundtrack To My Weekend

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with back to back visits from 3 of my favourite people and some Canada Day hijinks. Check out my new-ish Instagram account for cute piccies. And now it’s time to kick back for a low-key weekend.

Here are a few chillax songs I’ve been enjoying lately:

Hún Jörð by Sigur Rós (Recycled by Hassbræður)

I’ve liked this one for a while but only recently looked up the translation of the original song. Hún Jörð means “Mother Earth” in Icelandic. The lyrics translate into the Lord’s Prayer, but rewritten as a prayer to Mother Earth.

Now I like it even more.

Flight Facilities – Clair De Lune feat. Christine Hoberg

This video reminds me of good times in high school. Must be all the smoking cigarettes in suburban parking lots… Who knew we’d ever get nostalgic for teenaged boredom.

The Rainbow by Pith and the Parenchymas

Just heard of this local Ottawa band. This is my favourite track of theirs right now. It’s effed up and completely awesome.

Whatever you’re up to, have a great weekend!

Rachel Dolezal vs. Caitlyn Jenner – Messing Up Our Ideas About The True Self

TrueSelfFalseSelf-ByPatriciaJanuszkiewiczTrue Self . False Self by Patricia Januszkiewicz (Credit)

This is where things get really complex.

I was super pumped when Caitlyn Jenner came out. It meant a lot for such a famous person to identify themselves as trans, and to me it was an encouraging sign of the times when one of the biggest reactions on Twitter the day she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair was “why did she spell her name with a C and not a K?” That was just wonderful and priceless and inspiring.


The positive feedback and support she received was reassuring. I had really resented the way Diane Sawyer questioned Bruce before the big reveal, overtly contrasting his former athletic prowess with his new found femininity. She even threw in the phrase “raw masculine power” to describe the Olympic decathlon. As if being a star athlete and being a woman were opposites. Really??

At 3:04 watch Diane Sawyer almost give herself an aneurysm trying to comprehend that an American athletic hero could possibly also be a woman.

So just when we thought most of society had started to get really cool and comfortable with complex ideas about identity, the Rachel Dolezal scandal comes along.

DolezalCaucasianI admit I’ve found this whole fiasco fascinating but also very confusing. Like a lot of people, I’m scratching my head and kind of don’t know what to think. How did this even happen?

I completely understand why a white woman pretending to be black is wrong. I get that a white person appropriating a culture that they don’t belong to is very problematic, and that using this identity to leverage positions of power and authority, denying access to ACTUAL women of colour, is so SO wrong. Dolezal’s sense of entitlement is colossal.  She has a lot to answer for.

On the other hand, on a gut level I feel a bit disappointed. We were making such good progress on getting around rigid ideas about gender. Why can’t we also start questioning rigid constraints around the idea of race, which is itself another social construct used to put people in boxes?

The reality is, we’re not there yet. And even if we were, Dolezal wouldn’t exactly be celebrated as a pioneer in this area.

Kat Blaque’s video below is great and discusses all the reasons why it’s not right to dismiss Dolezal as “transracial” and compare changing your racial identity to changing your gender identity.

I respect her viewpoint as a black trans woman speaking from experience, and I acknowledge that her words should carry a lot more weight than my cis-white ones on this topic.

Having said that, I can’t let go of this strong hunch that we are on the verge of a dramatic shift in the way we form and express identity. I’ve written about the fluidity of identity before, and I still think that thanks to online communications and the advent of social media, this kind of identity-morphing is only going to become more common.

Whether it’s politically comfortable or not, Dolezal did something we all do now – she edited her identity to better reflect her opinion about herself. She just took it to its extreme and manipulated it to her advantage. When it comes down to it, who you are in the in the internet age is up to you – identity is mostly a matter of opinion.

Kat argues in her video that an African American can’t change her race the way Dolezal did, but it’s no secret that some Indian women are bleaching their skin and some Asian women are having surgery on their eyelids to appear more caucasian. Anyone can purchase colour contact lenses that hide your real eye colour.

Let me be really clear – I’m not trying to equate a person who gets plastic surgery to look more white because they’ve been shamed into hating their features due to racist, manufactured ideas about beauty, with a person who undergoes sex reassignment because they feel that they are innately a different gender. I agree with Kat that this is not an accurate comparison. But both situations rely on the same basic principle that people have the choice to change their bodies to suit their own ideas about their identity, rather than relying on genetics to dictate it.

As multi-ethnic, blended and non-traditional family models become more prevalent, I predict that people are going to get less and less hung up on what race your parents happen to be.

Did your parents adopt you from another country? Did they go to the sperm bank? Did they get a friend to surrogate? Is your race totally ambiguous? That’s nice. Why did they decide to spell your name with a C instead of a K?

Maybe that would be a nicer question to ask than constantly demanding, “Where are you really from?

So you see I can’t be totally 100% mad at Rachel Dolezal, because despite the fact that her choices were in extremely bad taste and judgement, harmful, deceitful and self-serving, and I don’t condone her behaviour, she also just successfully demonstrated the extreme plasticity of identity. For ten years.

In a weird way, it’s kind of exciting to think that these race boxes we’re stuffed in maybe aren’t as sturdy as we think. Our identities, like our physical selves, are becoming more changeable – for better or for worse.

metamorphosis_detail_by_optiknervemetamorphosis 002DETAIL by optiknerve-gr on deviantart