Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Harper prend des forces: Conservatives court Québec

The Tories have adopted this as their French-language slogan for the 2008 election.

In an effort to woo votes away from the Bloc in Quebec, Harper is courting Québécois voters. And he's going about it in an extremely effective way. A quick glance at the Conservative press release page is a pretty clear indicator of this. On September 18, while the arts community was still fuming over the cuts to funding, the Tories released a communiqué affirming that they were "committed to French-language TV" and that "Stephen Harper and the Conservative Government greatly value and support Quebec’s unique arts and culture." This was part of an announcement dedicating $25M to Quebec's TV5, including $15M for TV5MONDE, which has all kinds of implications for better branding of Canada as a bilingual nation (an endeavour which is currently sadly neglected). The day before, there was an even better one: "Conservative Government to Ensure CRTC Reflects Canada’s Linguistic Reality". Among the provisions is the resolution that the chairmanship of the CRTC will alternate between anglophones and francophones, and the big one: "Hearings related to French-language or Quebec broadcasters will be heard by a panel consisting of a majority of French-language or Quebec CRTC members." Some degree of self-government? That's just what we've always wanted!! In addition to these arts-related concessions, there are plenty of headlines in the following vein: "[Insert Québécois constituency here] Deserves a Conservative MP" or "Real Leadership in [Constituency]". They even make a token gesture of recognition for Franco-Ontariens!

Another big score for the Tories were their comments about 1837 and "true patriots". Québécois love talking about patriotes. And another of Harper's self-government-promising moves? On la St-Jean(!), he promised to "practise an open federalism, a federalism that respects the autonomy of the provinces and the original principles of the Constitution." Touching a nerve that goes all the way back to Confederation.

Perhaps the most illustrative gesture was the photograph of a smiling Harper in front of his Québécois campaign poster.

Many other Conservative candidates in Quebec have similar photos. But the TV ads are pretty illustrative as well. For example, this one, which, though it contains no Magic Sweater Vest, is just as wholesome -- they're drinking orange juice, and no one seems to stop nodding. There is even a chick in there! Of course, Harper only manages about three sentences, but his accent is definitely impressive for a Calgarian. More of the same are available here. Many of them begin with an "everyday normal" citizen apologizing to M. Duceppe for his incompetence in the face of Conservative leadership, and they all end the same way: "Avec les conservateurs, le Québec prend des forces." ("With the Conservatives, Quebec is getting stronger.") The ads are perfect, but for one small detail: Avec les conservateurs.

Apparently, the Tory PR department was hoping that the Québécois would overlook the fact that they (the Tories) currently only hold 11 of the 75 seats in Quebec. Ce n'est pas le Bloc indeed! If Quebec is prending any forces, it is not because of the Conservatives.

Harper and his gang are, like any party in any region, up and down in the Quebec polls depending on which paper you read and when. On August 29, the National Post declared that a "Quebec poll holds bright prospects for Conservatives". Exactly one month later, the CBC wondered whether Harper's Quebec support was softening. On September 14, CTV said that "the poll suggests Prime Minister Stephen Harper's gamble of recognizing Quebec as a nation has paid off," while the Toronto Star announced on September 25 that a "Bloc rebound hurts Tories in Quebec." Polls are awfully fickle like that.

Fickle polls are not enough to quiet my artsy, female, left-wing, social-justice-loving nerves though. All these ads about forces being prended have given me the envie to grab Quebeckers by the fleurs-de-lis and shake them, saying "Qu'est-ce que vous pensez?"

Quebec, despite being a distinct society, has inherited a lot of things from France: language, religion, a vague hostility towards immigrants, and a fairly socialist mindset. After all, the mandated 35-hour workweek, unionmania, cheap beer, and a penchant for protesting didn't come out of nowhere. The Conservatives, however, have not typically been associated very strongly with socialism. Not that any of the other parties who've made it to the house have (with the possible exception of the NDP), but none so weakly as the Tories. Let's compare and contrast a little more, shall we?

Things Quebeckers likeThings Harper has done or wants to do
Arts and culture, a very important component of patrieCut truckloads of arts funding, specifically the type that would help emerging Canadian artists; Bill C-10
Not sending the military where it doesn't belong (See Boer War, Conscription crisis, etc)Increase military spending
Rehabilitation of young offendersYouth Crime bill
The HabsBe a Leafs fan

Seriously, Quebec. Don't get fooled. Remember la grande noirceur? Remember Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge? Didn't turn out to apply so well to politics, did it? Quebec, you do better under more liberal governments! I wish I could appeal to a sense of communion and federalism, but of course "federalism" means very different things in Quebec than it does in the rest of Canada.

I don't like to advocate the use partisan materials in such a way, but Quebec, maybe you should listen to that Bloc attack ad. Stephen Harper is saying all kinds of pretty things to you now -- but beware of cadeaux vides.

EDIT: This seemed pretty relevant, as well as entertaining.
Culture en Péril/Culture in Danger

Monday, September 29, 2008

Election time: Sexy candidates

At long last, the Sexy Candidates 2008 list is here!

Of course, the Sexy Candidates 2008 list is a spin-off of the Sexy Politicians Hotlist, so you should all know what to expect, with a few minor discrepancies. Unless you've never seen the Sexy Politicians Hotlist, of course. So in the interest of shameless self-promotion, I've interviewed myself to compile a helpful Q&A.

What is the Sexy Candidates 2008 list?
Exactly what it sounds like. Most people already vote for someone based on very faint or terrible reasons, so why not choose a candidate based on how attractive he or she is? More seriously, it's a more light-hearted side to the heaviness, drama, and scandal which accompany any election, especially the general ones. Yes it's kind of dumb and shallow, but it's satire so it's okay.

How are candidates evaluated?
On the Sexy Politicians Hotlist, candidates were often chosen for a combination of good looks, interesting résumés, and half-naked photos that had appeared in the news. But the Sexy Candidates 2008 list is much shallower, and it doesn't care about inner beauty. Candidates were chosen strictly for their physical attractiveness. But in order to not look like a total pig, the list attempted to learn a thing or two about each candidate.

I expect you have some nice, politically correct things to say about each candidate.
Um, suffice it to say that if I ever run for office, I will have to destroy all evidence that this list was ever created.

Why do you use the first-person plural instead of singular?
It makes my unapologetically idiosyncratic choice of candidates seem more legitimate. And it makes it sound like La Soubrette is important enough to have multiple staffers.

Despite the fact that I have read through most of this unilingual post already, I am not terribly fluent in English. Is the list presented in both official languages?
I'm glad you asked. As a matter of fact it is! And it didn't even receive government funding.

Now go check it out.

Post Script on Attack Ads

My favourite is the "Oh no!" at the end.

Read Pictures for Sad Children!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An open letter to an apathetic elector

Dear Uncle ____,

My mother tells me that you are contemplating NOT VOTING. I feel a sense of responsibility as a fellow citizen who is equally subject to the powers of the government to be elected to ask you,


Did you ever read or see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Do you remember the part at the beginning, where the world gets blown up because nobody launched any complaints or protests to the contrary? I think the comparison to voting is pretty clear. Do you agree with Dion's carbon tax? Are you in favour of reformed child care funding? Are you for tougher mandatory sentences for young offenders? Do you care about drastic cuts to arts funding? If you do not vote, you are basically saying "I do not care about any of these issues," and I know many of them affect you. And if you don't vote, you lose the right to complain about anything the feds do. You will just be handing them all you tax money and saying "Do whatever you feel like with this!"

I know, I know. You think your vote doesn't count. But realistically? The dollar you give to the Red Cross at the Wal-Mart checkout doesn't count. The low-flow toilet you recently installed doesn't count. The grade your daughter gets on her next spelling test won't count. But do you acknowledge any of this? Of course not. That would be way too nihilistic. And the Red Cross would be broke, the world would continue to waste water until there wasn't enough fresh water left, and our kids would all fail elementary school.

However, I have a piece of good news for you. Your vote kind of does count, or at least it doesn't not count as much as usual. You live in a swing riding, where, in the last federal election, the Liberal candidate lost to the Conservative one by a mere 455 votes (source: Wikipedia). Seriously, it is really quite important that you get out there and cast your ballot!

If you are totally disillusioned with all the major parties, at the very least cast a protest vote for the Marijuana or Communist or Family Coalition party. Because no matter who wins or looses on October 14, the most depressing number is going to be the voter turnout rate. Lots of people went to lots of trouble not only to ensure that you would be (mostly) governed by a democratically elected and therefore accountable government, but to ensure that it would be a government devoted entirely to Canadian interests, and not those of the British empire at large. Can't you even pay lip service to them?

Love, Rebecca


While we're on the topic, we should discuss how to talk to your parents about voting ... before someone else does.

The following is an actual conversation. My mother is a university-educated woman who reads frequently, can name and summarize every British monarch since the Tudors, and has been known to have arguments about the reformation at the dinner table. And yet, she has trouble figuring out who to vote for.

MOTHER: I don't know who to vote for. I hate the Harper government and I'd vote Liberal, but I like my [Conservative] MP.
ME: Hmm, well, what has your MP done that you like?
MOTHER: Um . . . I don't know.
ME: Well why do you like him then?
MOTHER: He communicates well.
ME: What do you mean he communicates well? You can't name anything he's done!
MOTHER: Yeah but he's always sending flyers to the house.
ME: Um . . . I'm gonna say you should vote Liberal.

Just a reminder. Talk to your parents -- and children, friends, colleagues, professors, senile grandparents, transit seatmates, and gynecologists -- about voting.

The bitches scooped me!

While I sit here, feverishly working away on my Sexy Candidates list (and I do mean feverishly -- I've caught the nasty cold that's been going around campus, and the Dimetapp is not helping me work), the CBC has scooped me.

Now, they didn't necessarily take the "sexy" angle. Theirs was "candidates under 30". But since "sexy" and "under 30" are often synonymous when it comes to politicians, they scooped me on eight of my twenty-five Sexy Candidates. My only hope is that they didn't do the article in French, so I can at least reach the francophone community first.

You can read the article here, but I'd kind of rather you didn't.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Conservative comedy

Oh, how dark it is.

Gerry Ritz's "cold cuts" joke may be old news-wise, but I am still getting Facebook invites to join a group calling for his resignation. And seriously, WTF?

I may have an incredibly dark sense of humour, but that's not why Mr. Ritz's joke doesn't bother me. The fact that it bothers so many other people so much is what bothers me. This is a clear case of PC-gone-wild if I ever saw one. I don't think it's a stretch to say that even the families of the victims -- oops, I mean, terminally bacterially challenged individuals -- are going a bit crazy (although I'll concede that the Wayne Easter line was a bit much).

And finally, I've found someone who agrees with me, in a fun tongue-in-cheek kind of way: Tabatha Southey, my new favourite Globe & Mail writer.

"Stephen Harper shouldn't axe anyone for demonstrating what Liberal leader Stéphane Dion calls 'a lack of sensitivity.' That would be like the New Democrats firing someone for smoking pot. Mr. Harper has long had the insensitive vote locked up. No reason for Mr. Dion to keep congratulating him on it."

You can read the full article here: Wait, what if the Conservative Party is just an elaborate, high-concept comedy act?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Election time: attack ad fun

They say that politics is the second-oldest profession. If that's true, then attack ads must be the oldest form of ad. Back when "politician" was synonymous with "despot", the original attack ads were literal attacks, as in, "Accept my authority or I will attack you with my warriors." But then the agricultural revolution started getting really popular, and things like art and increased literacy meant that just having a bunch of soldiers and a state religion wasn't enough; you had to kind of convince the population at large that you were the right guy to make laws and declare wars and stuff.

I doubt that many elections, or wars of conquest or civil wars or revolutions, have been won by leaders who said, "You know, the guy currently in power is pretty cool. But I might also be pretty cool." No, you have to convince the masses that the guy currently in power is leading them on a path straight to hell, and that if you get in power, they will all become richer, happier, and better-looking. Or, if you are the guy in power, that if you get deposed God will rain down fire from the sky as punishment. Thus, the attack ad was born.

For a while, literacy was awesome for this purpose. You could appeal to voters' intellects to convince them that you were the right one to lead them into costly and sometimes unnecessary wars. Then universal suffrage happened and voter turnout became kind of a big deal; luckily radio and TV were invented shortly thereafter and you didn't have to appeal to voters' intellects anymore. Thank God.

Today (and I mean literally today, because for the purposes of this blog everything else is irrelevant), most political ads contain a combination of attack and promotion. This is the best way to go about it, because undermining your opponent does nothing unless you make yourself look good as well. But not all ads have the same combination. Observe:

The Liberals, perhaps assuming that the last two years of the Conservatives' minority government were attack enough and that Canadians want slow, gradual progress anyway, have run a fairly clean television campaign and mostly base their ads around the big, exciting new Green Shift platform. That's not to say they don't sling their share of mud, though. The Young Liberals, for example, participated in a smear campaign re: the Chuck Cadman affair as well as the In-and-Out Scandal the day after the RCMP raided Tory HQ. And just because they don't air attack ads on TV doesn't mean they don't exist: hi.im.a.liberal.ca.

The NDP and the Bloc have been kind of equally attack-y, although the NDP practically makes criticizing other parties part of their platform (Bob Rae knows what I'm talking about). And this is not necessarily a bad thing; duly noted criticism is part of any healthy democracy. Unfortunately, this is not something on which to build a government (Bob Rae knows what I'm talking about). But their caustically sarcastic New Kind of Strong ad is still a lot of fun. Attack ads can often be caustic, but they are rarely caustically sarcastic.

The Bloc was a little late in rolling out their ad (only just posted today on their website), and it's exactly what you'd expect from a Bloc ad: a mime who is sad that the Québecois don't get enough respect. I cannot fathom why M. Duceppe thinks that Quebeckers deserve "plus de respect" since they get plenty of it as it is - certainly financially! - but if he didn't, he wouldn't have a platform. As anyone who knows me knows, I absolutely adore French Canadians and Québec, but as anyone who has ever come close to mentioning separatism around me knows, don't even get me started. Hey Gilles? Why don't you complain about federal funding to Alberta? And why don't you complain about your culture getting the shaft to the Acadians? Still, the Bloc's chanson de campagne is kind of fun, in the same way that Mes Aïeux's Chanson à boire is fun.

Finally, the most attack-y: the Conservatives. And it's understandable that they be attack-y. When you're the guy in power, it's more about undercutting the other guy than building yourself up. Well, assuming your government is good, anyway. Maybe that's why they released the promote-y ads as well. But it's the promote-y ads I don't really understand. There are two extremes when it comes to evaluating politicians: the American way, and the French way. The American way says that a good politician is "good" in every aspect of his life: he goes to church, he has a wife and 2.5 children, the only time he ever drinks is a glass of red wine once a week for the health benefits, and everything he knows about marijuana cigarettes, he learned from Reefer Madness. You solicit gay sex in an airport bathroom just once, and all of a sudden, you are no longer a good candidate for government. In France, you can be caught sniffing cocaine in a blonde wig and high heels, and even though every man, woman, and child in France will read about it in the papers, if the economy is good you have a reasonable shot at re-election. Canada is somewhere in between these two extremes. Stephen Harper seems to think that we lean much more towards the American way. "Wow, Stephen Harper plays music with his kids? Well, that makes me feel much better about the copyright bill!" Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Stephen is styling himself as a "family man" only two years after he shook his kids' hands on the first day of school? (Say what you will about the triviality of this matter, it is not normal not to hug your elementary-aged children on the first day of school.) Weird promote-y commericals aside, the Conservatives' attack website against Dion, notaleader.ca, is still the most fun attack-related material I've seen since the writ dropped. Admittedly, I am the exact demographic it's targeting -- and it's totally working. Last post, I talked about the fun of "make-your-own-attack-ads". I couldn't find any at that time, but apparently Google failed me, because notaleader.com has one. Unfortunately, they had to infringe some copyrights to create this bit of fun, and a few of the copyright holders (TVO) were unimpressed. Maybe that's why when I tried to access it today, it wouldn't work. I foolishly believed that it was easy to load websites.

Once more, stay tuned for more Election time fun. Next time, how to talk to a friend who refuses to vote.

Edit: A Liberal attack ad!
One finally made it to the televised arena after all, but since no one actually watches TV anymore, you can see it here: Harpernomics ad
This changes the entire spectrum I so cleverly photoshopped up there. I'm not going to re-photoshop it though. I have two papers and a magazine article to write in the next 72 hours!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Election time!

Everybody loves election time!

Although I confess that my sample group is skewed, as the majority of the people I hang out with on a day-to-day basis are from the Political Science and other politically-oriented departments at my university (politically affiliated boys totally put out). We must also keep in mind the number of taxpayers who are unimpressed with another multi-million-dollar election to pay for. We must keep in mind the members of the electorate for whom the last general election was practically last week, not to mention those in Ontario who are scratching their heads and thinking "Didn't we just have an election last October?"

There is a disturbing number of registered voters who engage in a number of disturbing practises, including but not limited to:
  • Voting for a party because it's the same party for which they've voted for the last 65 years
  • Voting for a party because it's the party their parents vote for
  • Choosing a party to vote for using methods not much more sophisticated than closing their eyes, waving their arms around, and placing an X wherever the pencil lands
  • Ignoring the 18,000 sets of verbal instructions and diagrams, and marking the ballot improperly
  • Not voting
But sometimes I wonder if we can really blame them (for all but marking the ballot improperly). In a perfect world, everyone would act like they belonged to the Political Science department, and general elections would be as exciting as the Olympics, the playoffs, and New Year's Eve put together. On election night, everyone would get together at the bar or their friend's place to gather round the TV and trade projections as to the outcomes while the CBC played the Election Night in Canada theme (too soon?). Sadly, this is not the case. Much to my bafflement, people don't discuss politics around the dinner table or water cooler with the same frequency that we do in the campus bar. Or at least, not analytically. For many, many people, general elections are just another nuisance that hog media attention for a month and add another errand to the to-do list on E-day. And let's be honest: your vote, all by its lonesome self, doesn't actually count. But, like the 7 cents of change you drop in the Tim Horton's charity box, it's part of a greater whole.

So, putting all that depressing cynicism behind us, let's discuss the exciting parts of the general election!

Campaigning is fun, and not just for the free food. Interesting people campaign. If someone is campaigning, or even just showing up at a rally or debate, it is indicative of the fact that they care. How much is open to debate, but at least enough to drag themselves on down. Youth events have the palpable taste of youthful enthusiasm, making them feel like a smarter, cooler frosh week where you don't have to hide your alcohol. The conversations might not be objective, but with a little prompting, they can certainly be analytical. Best of all, you don't need to prove your party allegiance in order to go campaigning, which means that theoretically you can campaign for as many parties as you like. Be careful though, lest you be accused of being an ideology whore.

Speculation is fun. The conversations at the campus pub get more heated and urgent. And you learn things, sometimes more than you did in the lecture you just left. For example, last provincial election, I learned that there are blue Tories under the age of twenty-five.

Attack ads are fun. So far, my favourite is the wickedly clever DionBook and Excuse Generator from the Conservatives' notaleader.ca. During the 2004 provincial election, the Star ran a "create-your-own-attack-ad" Madlib, because they were just so darned easy to satirize. I can't find it anymore, so maybe I'll make one of my own. Keep reading!

Working as a poll official is fun. There are the obvious perks (money, a power trip when you get to count up the ballots, prestige and respect in the form of a big yellow sticker, all the free pens you can steal), but the sense of excitement and satisfaction gained from knowing you helped to uphold democracy is, well . . . almost as cool as the free pens.

There is no doubt going to be much more about the election over the next month. Keep reading for dissertations on Harper's soulless stare, Dion's wicked English, Layton's critical chops, why Elizabeth May can't (but should be able to) catch a break, and Gilles Duceppe's beautiful blue eyes - plus why opinion polls are important, why I withdrew my offer to run for the Greens in Durham, and why you should talk to your parents about how they'll be voting before somebody else does.

Friday, September 5, 2008

September Reading

Don't you just love the first day of school?!

It's the biggest thrill of my life.

Now that it's back-to-school time, the scholars among us are opening our wallets and dumping the contents of our bank accounts at the bookstores. And all of a sudden, we have about 84,000 hours a week more of reading to do than we did in the summer (a typical week only contains 168 hours, so you can imagine how distressing this is).

Those among us who are not scholars are laughing. Scholars, take heart. We'll SEE who's laughing at tax time.

My little sis is partaking of higher education for the very first time this September. And, knowing full well (but perhaps not realizing) that she would be doing much, much more reading than she is used to in the coming months, she asked me, her older, wiser, English-major sister, for books. That's right, she wanted to carve out some time to read the classics. In an attempt not to scare her off right away, I picked out two easy ones for her: Dracula and The Great Gatsby. Also, they were on sale, which in my opinion made them even better choices.

Couldn't we each carve out a little time to make ourselves a little better-read? It might not improve our chances of getting a job or make us any healthier, but it might make us slightly more interesting at parties, thereby increasing our chances of getting laid. So, I present to you my recommendation for your September reading list.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

You may have heard things about the Canterbury Tales which have scared you off. You may have even had a look at the original, which scared you so off that you've never considered reading it in its entirety. The thing about the Canterbury Tales is that it was written in Middle English (which bears no relation to Middle Earth). Some people mistakenly think that The Canterbury Tales is "Old English". Other people mistakenly think Shakespeare is Old English. What is actually Old English is Beowulf, and Old English is in fact so far removed from Modern English that it probably bears a closer resemblance to German, with a little Scottish thrown in. Shakespeare is Modern English. The Canterbury Tales is Middle English. Now you know.

Middle English, while still vaguely comprehensible to the Modern English reader, is rather hard to read through comfortably -- not unlike Trainspotting. For example:

When that Aprille with his showres swoot
The drought of Marche hath percèd to the root,
And bathèd every veyn in suche licoúr,
From which vertu engendred is the flour;
When Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Enspirèd hath in every holte and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe course runne,
And smale fowles maken melodie,
That slepen al the night with open eye,
So pricketh them natúre in their coráges:—
Thenne longen folk to go on pilgrimàges,
And palmers for to seeken strange strandes,
To distant seintes, known in sondry landes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Canturbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seeke,
That them hath holpen when that they were weeke.
- The General Prologue

As you may have noticed, this was in the 1380s, before Webster or the Oxford University Press, and people were not particularly concerned with standardized spelling. Also, pronunciation was a little different from what it is today. All this is enough to discourage the casual classics reader who is just trying to get laid. I mean, what the heck are "swoot showres"? Where is Engelond, anyway? And who is this blissful martyr fellow, if that's what he really is? (He's Thomas à Beckett. Look it up on Wikipedia.)

Modern-day Chaucer lovers feel your pain. And for that reason, translated versions of the Canterbury Tales are available! I just picked up a sweet illustrated hardcover copy at Chapters on sale for $20, but if you aren't quite as lucky, or aren't sure you'll like it $20 worth, you can find it in numerous places online, including here: http://www.librarius.com/cantales.htm. And of course, like any true classic, you can always check it out on Wikipedia or Sparknotes.

I should point out that I am kind of an expert on the Canterbury Tales, having written no less than three academic essays on the topic. Well, okay, two essays and a short paper. On the Wife of Bath. Well, how many papers have YOU written dealing with the Canterbury Tales, hmm?

The Canterbury Tales is a classic, even despite the fact that Chaucer never actually got around to finishing it before he died. And here's something people rarely think of when they think of the Canterbury Tales: this stuff is comedy. It has all the sex, toilet humour, clever satire, witticisms, petty sqaubbles, and masterful storytelling of anything you'll see on TV this fall (and likely a great deal more of the masterful storytelling). Popular favourites are the toilet-humour Miller's Tale, the awesomely-unironically-racist Prioress's Tale, and the feministic Wife of Bath's Tale. But there are a few lesser-known gems, such as the epic Knight's Tale and the suprise-ending Shipman's Tale, of which Caryl Churchill must have been thinking when she said "You can't separate fucking and economics."

I say that the Prioress's Tale is "awesomely-unironically-racist" in the same way that Uncle Remus singing "Zip-a-dee-do-dah" in the Disney "classic" Song of the South is awesomely-unironically racist (see what I'm talking about here - number 2). It's so bad it's good. It's completely unaware of its own over-the-top hilarity, kind of like Micheal on The Office. As for the Wife of Bath's tale being feminist, well, most people will agree with me - but don't tell my TA from ENGL 2300 I said that, because she wrote a long-ass comment about calling a Chaucer character a "feminist" being an anarchronism on my first paper. If you're into the whole 1380s Chaucer-led feminism thing, you'll also enjoy the Franklin's Tale, as well as the Merchant's Tale if you're also into sublte satire. Hooray for January-May romances!

In summary, think of the Canterbury Tales as Aesop's Fabels meets South Park, except written during the reign of Henry IV. Before Joan of Arc. If nothing else, read it to illustrate the point that people have had basically the exact same sense of humour since forever.