UN General Assembly 2015: What They Really Said

Hey, everyone. Nic over at PineTreeRepublic gave me the amazing opportunity to write a guest post for the blog! Check it out here, and give PTR some love while you’re there. They’re a well-written political blog that focuses on Canadian news, but also on engaging readers and fostering community and intelligent discussion.

The story features my expert* analysis of key speeches made during the United Nations General Assembly earlier this month. Not sure what the UNGA is? Imagine each country taking a turn to stand on a metaphorical soapbox and  1) say a bunch of fluffy stuff about development and equality and peace, and 2) make really passive-aggressive insults at countries they don’t like. For the story, I used my personified characters to translate speeches by America, Russia, China, Switzerland, North Korea, and Canada.

Again, thanks to PineTreeRepublic for giving me the opportunity. It was a lot of fun to write. Maybe in the future, you guys will see something from them show up here on P&P (wink).

*Not actually expert; I just said that because it sounded cool

Bilateral: Passive-aggressive

Switzerland and Russia had a moment to themselves outside in the conference hall. Russia had no intention of starting a conversation. Switzerland had every intention of replacing the uncomfortable silence with an uncomfortable question.

“Do you resent Germany?”

Russia looked at him, her placid expression mostly unchanging. “For what? World War II? For breaking his promise? For what his fascist tirade did to me and my people?”

“No,” Switzerland said. “For Marx.”

“Marx?”

“His book caused some trouble for you, didn’t it?”

Russia laughed.

“What I like about you, Switzerland, is that you love passive aggression.”

He slipped his hands into his pockets and his shoulders lifted, as if he was almost going to shrug.

“Well, someone here needs to offset all the aggressive aggression.

Whenever, wherever

Photo by thomashawk CC BY-NC 2.0
Photo by thomashawk CC BY-NC 2.0

245 jets. 8 seats. Double waterfalls. Remote monitoring. Saltwater sanitation. Pillows. Cup holders. Blinky LED lights that change color. A surround sound entertainment system compatible with any kind of music player and a minibar just three feet away.

America could brag that his hot tub was ‘the sexiest you’ve ever seen,’ and he was probably right. And everyone who attended his ‘Mind-Blowing Jacuzzi Party’ would agree. Well, everyone except Hungary, who said he’d “seen better” and was then promptly told by America to “go stand in the corner and think about what you’ve done.”

Continue reading “Whenever, wherever”

Bilateral: Bonding

Bilateral is a new, weekly flash fiction feature of brief interactions between two countries in 100-150 words. Each story offers insight into relationships and personalities. How will you interpret what you read?

The US and India spent the past three hours talking about infrastructure, Silicon Valley, sustainability, and nuclear trade. A retreat to the garden was a much needed breath of fresh air. They sat together on a bench and had one rule: don’t talk about politics.

“I would say,” America started as he stretched, “that we talk about football, but I think our definitions of the sport are a little different.”

“Just a little.”

“We could always bond over our mutual dislike for Britain. It doesn’t even have to be political. It can just be that, uh, England’s eyebrows look dumb. Or something.”

India smiled softly in reply. After a pause, his face lit up with intrigue. “Do you play Words With Friends?”

“I should warn you … I don’t show mercy.”

“Neither do I.”

And they both reached for their cellphones.

Coffee and closers

by Jay Mantri
Photo by Jay Mantri

Liechtenstein took his with cream and sugar. Austria took hers with cream but no sugar. Switzerland took his straight up black. Germany took his with a tablespoon of Jäger.

“I’ll be honest,” Liechtenstein said to gently ease into conversation. “Football is making me sad. We didn’t do so hot last month… But, I can’t let that get me down!” He picked up his mug and took two big gulps. “Yesterday,” he started, a small smile forming. “I watched a squirrel eat a cracker and it was the funniest thing.”

When he set his cup down, it was Austria who noticed that his jittery hands. “So,” he continued, bouncing to a new train of thought, “how’s everyone been? Hey, hey, Germany? How’s Greece doing?”

Austria set the spoon she’d used to stir her coffee for way longer than necessary, down and it clinked against the saucer. “Don’t get him started on Greece,” she warned. “He’s already moping.”

“I’m not moping,” Germany said in a mopey tone. “I’m just tired.” Setting an empty mug down, he leaned back in his seat with a sigh. “He’s a mess, honestly. But at least I convinced him get off the couch and shave.”

“Is he calling this a ‘mid-life crisis’?” Austria asked before sipping her coffee with raised eyebrows and an air of condescension. “He said that the last time.”

Liechtenstein exhaled. “Wow. This is sadder than football.” Again he took a long, excessive drink of his frothy beverage. “Hey, Switzerland, help us think of something happy to talk about.”

This whole time, Switzerland had been silently and disconcertingly staring off at nothing in particular. Liechtenstein’s question changed nothing.

“Switzerland?” The microstate asked again, this time nudging his friend with an elbow.

Switzerland jerked and inhaled sharply. “Hm? What?” He shook his head before rubbing his eyes with a hand. “Oh… guess I dozed off.” Then he cleared his throat to alleviate its groggy crackle. “Hey… does anyone else ever think about how no matter how hard we try, we’ll never escape our personal demons? Anyway, what were we talking about?”

Which of these countries are you most like? Take the quiz to find out, and, hey, why not share your results in the comments?

Continue reading “Coffee and closers”

MAD 6: A little situation

The mock United Nations conference room, which was really just a college lecture hall, felt a lot like a congested highway. You could see the traffic backed up from across the divide and you’d be struck with both sympathy and relief–but mostly relief. Here, Asia would be the long line of backed-up traffic. South America, Africa, and good chunk of the rest of the world looked on with apologetic smiles while thinking to themselves, ‘Wow, I’m glad I don’t live near North Korea.’ Western Europe, at least the German speaking parts of it, wouldn’t be the sympathetic driver or the unfortunate bastard stuck behind fifty cars. They would be the weird car pulled over to the shoulder because they couldn’t stop arguing over which gas station to stop at and needed to take a breather. (Besides, Germany had been threatening to turn the car around since they pulled out of the driveway.)

“I say it’s about time we got ours. You in?”

Austria crossed her arms and cocked her head ever so slightly to the side. “What is it that you want us to join, exactly?”

South Africa announced proudly, “The Coalition of Underappreciated States Who are Just as Important as the World Powers.” 

Australia kindly added, “We’re calling it the Coalition, for short!”

South Africa elaborated. “We’re not going to sit back and let the United States, China, and other big powers engineer the future of our world for us. We already have a robust team of promising countries on our side! Brazil, Romania, Egypt, Hong Kong, Australia, and me.”

Austria raised a brow. “Promising, you said?”

“Sorry,” Switzerland replied. “My stance of political neutrality in times of war says I shouldn’t, and my lack of caring agrees.”

“I’ll do it,” Liechtenstein said after a beat of silence. “I’m small, and not very popular–I don’t even think most people know I exist or how to spell my name… But, if I can make a difference and stop a terrible nuclear war, I want in!”

And so, a stupidly optimistic Liechtenstein joined the Coalition. But not before saying goodbye.

He looked between Switzerland and Austria almostly sheepishly now that he’d left their little group. “Good luck figuring this whole thing out. I know the European Union is kind of screwy, but… if anyone can solve a world-wide disaster, it’ll be Switzerland. And Austria too, I guess.” Then he looked to Germany, stared at him for several seconds like he felt obligated to say something but didn’t want to, ended up saying nothing at all, then turned away awkwardly.

“Hey,” Switzerland said. “It’s a mean world out there. Remember what I taught you. And always use protection. By that, I mean you have to keep your borders secure. But also, use a condom because–”

At that, an embarrassed Liechtenstein promptly spun around and took off after Australia and South Africa.

Continue reading “MAD 6: A little situation”

Allison Speaks: Take this poll, it’ll be fun

(As are comma splices)

With 201 wrapping up and my having to fly solo (i.e., get blog views from somewhere other than the Commons), I wanted to give everyone the chance hit me with your opinions. So, here’s a poll. I’ll let it speak for itself.

Poll is under the read more; have fun! Oh, and you could also check out my latest story if you haven’t already (wink).

Continue reading “Allison Speaks: Take this poll, it’ll be fun”