Bertholm Hamshire's History of Civilization
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In the mid 8th century, an Anglo-Saxon named Bertholm Hamshire wrote what very well may be the first European history of civilization. The work was named, cleverly enough, the History of Civilization.
Part One: the Beginning
Human civilization began with mud. But not just any mud, however. The mud from which all of our great achievements were born is agreed by historians and hysterians alike to have been 100% Grade "A" terrestrial muck.
Now this first class filth is native to Mesopotamia, a place in the Middle Earth whose name is derived from the Greek for "sewage leak in the mucklands". Admittedly, some linguists challenge this translation. They claim it means "between the rivers". But what do they know?
Anyway, moving on...
Mesopotamian mud was highly valued in the ancient world. Folklore across the region describes it as being of utmost importance to their religious ceremonies. This is not to say, however, that it had no secular significance. Some of its more common uses were:
(a) sitting in it,
(b) falling in it,
(c) pushing others into it,
(d) sitting in it.
It was on a plot of land belonging to Ishbaz Udulbazzer, a dimension-hopping uruk-hai, that the first step towards culture and outright style took place. Ishbaz had nothing to do with it though since he had fled country after racking up a sizeable gambling debt. He eventually built a casino in a land he then named "To Bet". Later generations corrupted this into "Tibet" which makes it one of the oldest surviving placenames. So much for Ishbaz.
Ulegecheezer also had nothing to do with it, so scratch him. And Skulod, and Kadizak, and Cadilac, and Bandito Mussolini, and Willy Wonka, and Argoth the Gothic Gothophile, and Balneraz, and Sigmund Freud, and Pheobe the Panphobic, and Long John Silver, and Lodrishek, and Fridek, and all those publishers who will not buy this book, and Cynthia the Galavanting Klutz, and Mrs. Twinkie who-lives-next-door, the Pope, Pacman, and.... well the list goes on.
But one man was involved, albeit indirectly. His name was Abenechageezer and he stepped in Ishbaz's mud. The mud, or Agent X as we shall now call it, then dried, leaving Abenechageezer stuck. His neighbor promptly invented the brick.
The new made brick went on to crown itself Emperor Brickannius Blockavian I of the Brickish Empire. This vast dominion covered two square miles and was the strongest military power in Mesopotamia. Sadly, its cultural advances were halted six days after its founding by the anarchic activities of Captain Crunch.
[Note from Translator: The manuscript breaks off here and gives way to the following words, hastily scrawled.]
Beware the Crunch. He returns when you least expect it. Fly while you can. I hear him coming. It is too late for me. Bear my warning to them which have hope. Farewell, my friend.
[Note from Translator: After this, Bertholm's script continues. No explanation is given for the morbid interruption.]
The date of this was 7091 BOV (Before Organic Vegetables) and should always be remembered.
The next great technological development was the stick. These then are the generations of the Stick as found in the Chronicle of Dillweed the Penguin:
And Stick begat Stack, and Stack begat Stock, and Stock begat Steck, and Steck begat Stuck, and Stuck begat Steak, and Steak begat Beef and Stuka who is also called "Luftwaffe", and Stuka begat Spock, and Spock begat Pythagorus Terminatus, and Pythagorus Terminatus begat nothing for he was slain by Treebeard thus ending the dynasty.
Part Two: the Part After Part One
As knowledge of the Brick spread across the globe, an as of yet unidentified ethnolinguistic group called the Hopalongians made a startling discovery. Bricks need not only be used for building. They could, in fact, be dropped on one's own foot. This action was guaranteed to bring eternal bliss to the individual, or so said Hopalongian wisemen. It did not. It hurt.
All things considered though, the Hopalongians got off surprisingly well. Before this discovery they had been known as the Walkalongians. Now... well, you get the idea... But at least they could still move around, yes?
Thus is the part played by the Hopalongians in the rise of civilization. That they deserve to be remembered is beyond doubt, even though the Third Tricentenial Conclave of Scholars and Smart-People-Who-Think-They-Are-Better-Than-Everyone-Else voted 277 to 1 that this was not so. They also voted to bring the coffee into the game room and to lock the door on old Mrs. O'Scallop. But that is beside the point. The point is, well, pointy.
Colchian Dockworker -- So, you are Jason and these are the Argonaughts?
Jason -- Yes, I am and yes, they are.
Colchian Dockworker -- If you don't mind my asking, is there any reason you all are called the "Argonaughts"?
Jason -- Yes, well, actually there is. You see, when we were planning this little trip, we put some thought into it and decided to name ourselves after something really adventurous. We finally settled on "aaaargh".
Colchian Dockworker -- But that has nothing to do with adventures.
Jason -- You bet it does! It's the sound heroes make when they're losing a battle!
Colchian Dockworker -- I am sorry I asked, really...
The concept of Brick-dropping was quickly taken up by others with less kindly ambitions. Why, they reasoned, should they suffer the inconvenience of a throbbing foot? Why, asked they, could not it be dropped on those more deserving? Then came a glimmer of understanding. It could. And more.
The Brick became the first weapon. For while the Stick was a simple, if harmful, tool; the Brick was projectile through-and-through. Many verses were written in honor of this. The most famous of them all was a cuniform inscription discovered on clay (which is just Grade "B" mud) tablet in Mesopotamia.
Now, "cuniform" is a word derived from Anglo/Gaelic-Latin and translates as "I can na' farm". Just what farming has to do with a system of writing is uncertain. It has been proposed by certain sceptics that it may actually be Venusian for "can not form". This hypothesis has gained some support because, as everyone knows, Venusian girls are consistently unable to build a human-pyramid at the annual solar system bake-off competition.
This then is an excerpt from the poem:
Come, O my Brick, -- Crumbling in texture,
To a place of good view, -- So hidden yet clear,
That I may target my foe, -- Dull that he is,
And cast you forth, -- Swiftly through the air,
His face so to be whapped, -- Grandly and loud,
And here it is in its language of composition:
Ub ub ab ib, -- Ob ub ob ab,
Dee dee dob, -- Bip pob mob,
Izzi snizzle snat, -- BLT, hold the mayo
Ub nik nok nok, -- Who's there,
Apple pie face, -- Urg laggle ib ib ib,
The first recorded war was in central Mesopotamia and took place between the Bledugishandochanomazzeni and the Ip. The cause of this war is, itself, of great interest. It dealt with a cultural factor which developed simultaneously with the Brick: livestock.
Admittedly, this subject should have been covered in the last chapter but as history has taught us, one cannot have every thing so just live with it.
[Note from Translator: The following was clearly not meant for publication as it reveals the uniquely immature and touchy attitude of Bertholm Hampshire.]
I am not perfect you know. I forget things too! You critics are soooooo demanding! I mean, come on! You make it sound like a manuscript is SUPPOSED have quality! When I make millions from selling this and the specs to my time machine, then we'll see who laughs last!
[Note from Translator: The childish rant ends here.]
A pig is, by nature, filthy. More accurately, it is covered with mud. This made it sacrosanct to ancient man. Think about it. Where else could you get a walking cornfield? And besides, they look funny.
The cow, by contrast, is an exceptionally clean animal. A prime example is the Mafia-like organization now running Chick-Fil-A. Business suits, dark glasses, the works. It was not always this way though. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the cow was as muddy as the pig. In fact it was this issue which led to the first war of which is being written of in a long and very round-about way.
The stock-market in c. 6450 BOV (Before Olfactory Vanity) was weak. It was not yet six years since the Great Bannana Infestation and pigs were not as corpulent as they had once been. The cows saw this as an opportunity. Their leader, known to history only as Randolph Q. Sizzler IV, hired a mercenary army of humans and sent them to eradicate the pigs. In all fairness this was an amazing feat. As this was the first war, armies were still making the transition from "mob". In fact, they went home before the battle started. Thus ended the first war.
Weapon development moved onward despite this setback. The Stick, which has already been mentioned, was soon realized to make a handy arm-extension for when smiting one's foe. Here is the story as has been handed down by generations of munitions factory employees:
Uh... is this thing on? Right!
Once upon a time, which is when all such things happened, there was a man named Jakey. Now, whether this was his name or not is questionable but I am going to use it anyway... Philistines...
Jakey was a man. Not very surprising, really. The only other choice is for him to have been a woman and women do not have four feet long green beards. Hold on... neither did Jakey... Oh well... And one day, Jakey was standing in the rain, hoping to learn whether plants grow "up" or "down".
This is not working... Start over!
With the coming of the rain, Jakey let his guard down. But only ever so little. No one would be foolish enough to launch an attack on a night like this. However, it was well to be prepared... Memories of the ill-fated Pixiehome campaign crept to mind, threatening him with the unquiet that was its hallmark. He thrust them aside and shuddered. No, it would do him little good to brood on that nightmare now. Little good and much harm. He instead turned his mind his present.
The war was going well. Hard, yes, but well all the same. His regiment, the 1781st Fairyland Line Infantry, had fared badly in terms of casualties: one-half strength so said the listings. It was the Three Bears' fault, Jakey told himself. Their alliance with Goldilocks had been totally unexpected. Now, with their porridge factory churning out the rations which kept the Forty Thieves' Corps in the field and with Goldilocks' leading the partisan insurgents, the offensive had slowed.
Not all news was bad, though. The Rat King was finally done with covert neutrality. He had thrown his lot in with the Elven Triumverate which had, in effect, aligned him with the Fairy Imperium. The political implications of this were lost on Jakey. To him and his fellow soldiers it meant that they could now count on 550,000 new allies in the field. And if it turned the Nutcracker against them, so be it. Their armored divisions would crush him.
Sergeant Euan Kennedy wandered over. The ragged cigarette in his mouth crackled in the downpour.
Jakey nodded a greeting at the leprechaun tank-commander.
There was a silence...
[Note from Translator: The aformentioned silence, it seems, was eternal for it appears that Bertholm realized how far he had strayed. His writing then turns to a simplified version.]
So this "Jakey" was standing around when a man named "Oscar" came and hit him with a Stick. Jakey was not pleased at this so he invented the Club and hit Oscar back. Oscar responded by inventing the Axe and hit Jakey again. So Jakey invented the Sword and hit Oscar with it. Not to be outdone, Oscar invented the Broadsword and hit Jakey with it. Then, Jakey invented the Claymore with which he hit Oscar. Oscar promptly invented the Ballista and shot Jakey with it. Jakey did a round-about, invented the Mangonel, and shot Oscar with it. Oscar then invented the Onager and shot Jakey with it. So Jakey invented the Trebuchet and lobbed a very large rock onto Oscar. Oscar, therefore, invented the Bombard.... and so on and so on.
A good deal of time later, a certain Chinese doctor named Yin Yang McBobberson came along and invented the Autopsy. From it, he determined that caramel and taffy were to blame. Caramel, of course, denies that to this day.
Part Three: the Third Part
Days passed. Weeks passed. Months passed. Years passed. Alright, let's face it: a whole lot of time passed. Anyway, civilization was in full swing. Spirits were high, the bases were loaded, and it was the bottom of the ninth. Things had not looked so bright since the inauguration party of Ulshan Nazdark when Frixer Kebob Who-lives-over-by-Skittleborn stuck his torch into a twelve thousand gallon vat of chicken lard. That is to say, things were "pretty good".
One interesting feature of this era, which came after the one right before it and before the one just after it, is the polarization of civilization into four centers that happened during it. These four centers are: Right Here (Mediterranean), Right There (Middle East), Not Around Here (India), and That Other Place (China). While it is true that the natives of these places had their own names for them, these should be disregarded. After all, what did they know? They just lived there.
So... with which to begin? Some histories make a point of writing of the cities of northern India; Cattle Nyuk Nyuk being one of them. Wait... isn't that in Turkey? No, I am thinking of Scary Brae. Hold on again, that is in Scotland... Yes, Scary Brae is in Scotland and Doorhinge is in England. That can only mean that Cattle Nyuk Nyuk is in Nigeria. Or would that be Beijing? I am getting confused. As the philosopher Julian Septicus said under similar circumstances, "What the hell is going on? Somebody get me an atlas!". But I will sort that out later. I think I will speak first of Right Here. It is closest after all.
Now, early Mediterranean (that is to say, "Right Here", even though our past generations called it "Over There") civilization was distinguished by three things. First, it was not in the Middle East. True, this was sometimes debatable especially when flooding occurred but no matter. Second, it was not in India. This was good because Mediterraneans had a ritual which involved punting cows; something that did not go over well with the Indian equivalent of PETA. And third, it was not in China. There, chopsticks were favored over the traditional slamming one's face into one's food.
Mediterranean civilization is also remarkable for being an import. Why, reasoned the locals, should they suffer the pain of building a civilization from scratch when they could buy it abroad and assemble it in the comfort of their own homes? Why not indeed? Tariffs had not been lower for centuries and so everyone could afford the kit. But where did this product come from? The answer is twofold: the Middle East and Egypt.
The Middle East contribution can be written off in but a few words. Upon reaching the Mediterranean, the MEs went into collective shock at seeing so much water. The natives then did what any good host would do in such a situation: they stole everything they could get their hands on and ran. But as they did not know how to use their gains, it was left to the Egyptians to show them how.
The Egyptians... Here we reach a watermark in history, made all the more watery by the annual flooding of the Nile. The Nile, as you may know, is a river. What you may not know is that rivers tend to have water in them. Water and dirt make mud. And Egypt had plenty of dirt. So, whenever the Nile flooded, mud would be left behind. See? I am on to something! Mud made civilization! Mud over all! Mud! Mud! Mud! Mud! Hoorah! Mud! Mud!
[Note from Translator: The madness induced script ends here and Bertholm returns to his chronicle.]
In a pious way of reasoning, the Egyptians held this flooding to be a gift of the gods. In truth, it was caused by their Ethiopian neighbors to the south dumping their garbage in the river. The Nile crocodile was also a result of Ethiopian garbage. Here is what happened:
Several thousand years earlier, which was half as long as twice that and was several thousand years before that same number after, Chief Halashan found a gecko. The gecko was very nice. Chief Halashan named him Roger. One day, however, Roger was sleeping in the trash pile when a servant came by and tipped it into the Nile. Poor Roger! Almost immediately the foul waters closed over his/her (you never can tell with geckos) head! GOOD LORD! LOOK! HE'S MUTATING!!!!
And so, the Nile crocodile was born...
Having mentioned Egyptian religion, it would be well to give an over view of their gods. These deities are as follows:
(a) O'Cyrus. He was the god of the dead and would judge souls worthiness by balancing a featheduster on his head. Souls, however, soon learned that the best way to get into paradise was to push him over and then run in. This is why he is so often shown in bandages.
(b) Isis Frankenstein, M.D. She was the goddess of necromancy and also the wife of O'Cyrus. She gained mythological fame by sewing him back together after a party where his brother, Sith, a technocrat Dark Jedi and capitalist, had unveiled his latest invention: the water powered meat shredder.
(c) Horse. Horse was, well, not a horse (or at least HE said so). He was the son of O'Cyrus and Isis and was known for being hypnotized into believing himself a bird. Although the hypnotist was brought to justice (she got a job in the intelligence service), Horse was left with the terrible ailment of periodic attempts at flight.
(d) Sith. Sith, also known as Darth Turnover, was the brother of O'Cyrus and the god of fairly regular inconveniences. That he turned to evil at an early age can perhaps be forgiven once it is understood that out of the whole family tree, only O'Cyrus had a normal head. How would you like having the head of a dog? It made job hunting very difficult, I can tell you that! Just imagine:
Sith: Uh, hello. I am looking for a job...
Employer: Ooh! A doggy! Here, boy! Fetch the bone! Fetch the bone!
Sith: No, I think you are mistaken.
Employer: It talks!? Help! Demon! Help! Help!
Policeman: 'Ere wots all this then? Talking dogs? We can't 'ave that! After 'im, lads!
Sith: Crap... Not again...
(e) Broth. He was a fat little man with a round belly and a red suit who... Hold on... wrong time period... Broth was the god of soup. His sister was Saltine but she does not come into this since she became soggy and had to leave.
(f) Twinkie. She was the goddess of heartburn, strokes, and cardiovascular failure. Her symbol was the twinkie. Egyptians believed that she fought the dark forces of Ding Dongs and shrink-wrapped stickybuns every Thursday night down at the disco hall.
(g) The Whatsit. The Whatsit was, well, not the Whosit...
The overview ends here (because this is its end).
The contributions made to civilization by the Egyptians were inumerable. The one that you might be familiar with, however, is the "pyramid". Pyramids are... uh... big stone triangles... but... um... are three De Mentional... Yes, that is it... Right, skrod this paragraph! Start over!
The contributions made to civilization by the Egyptians were inumerable. The one you might be familiar with, however, is the "pyramid". Now, contrary to popular belief, pyramids were not the tombs of the pharoahs. (Bring it on, Egyptologists!) Rather, they were the worlds first commercially planned tourist trap. First designed by Big Bird and Telly Monster, they were financed by J.P. Morgan and together with Rudolpho Spagetti they built the Pyramids at Geezer. Unfortunately, this great feat was made naught when Charlton Heston led the Hebrew Labor Union in strike against the removal of slotmachines from workers mess halls.
It is a sad thing, though, that the tale of the Egyptians nation cannot be further delved into. This is because civilization has much to do with "constructive" action and little to do with "destruction". Or in simpler terms, "the people who build are far duller than those who break". Think about it. Which would you rather hear of? The Revolt of the Sugar Frosted Cheerios' Brotherhood or some chap named Roderick who raised a salt resistant radish? And if you say "Roderick", then I will throw a rock at you...
[Note from Translator: The manuscript now breaks into what seems to be an unrelated narrative.]
You know, this reminds me of a story...
No! Must resist! Must resist or I will end up telling you about things such as Mudebalam's gambling cartel of the Twelve-and-a-Half Dynasty! Quite an interesting tale, that...
There I go again! Quick! Save yourselves!
Oh, veddler... I guess I may as well...
Here it is in heroic verse as was found by Arnulf MacSkazerostovinko, the world-famous discoverer of the oldest piece of toast (198,536 years old, I believe):
Snickerdoodle the Bard:
Where standeth thou, Mudebalam?'
Where hath thou gone?
Where sitteth thou, Mudebalam?
Where art thou from?
Where lieth thou, Mudebalam?
Where went thou to?
Mudebalam the Conman:
Shaaah! What's wid all da racket!? I'm tryin' t' sleep!
[Note from Translator: The manuscript ends in brown stains, possibly blood but more likely just ketchup. There is a hastily scrawled pair of lines: "They are coming... We cannot get out...". And then a single word, nearly unintelligable: "Televangelists".]
The origins of this work's sources are lost in the mists of time. It can be gathered from reading it, however, that Bertholm Hamshire was a singularly bad writer.