Momusstad!

by M. Lazarus

 

 

 

 

Lark Publishing 2016

 

For more stories, visit http://subsidingsun.co.uk/lark/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

Momusstad!

by M. Lazarus

 

 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER, MY MORTAL FRIENDS, AND MAKE SOME NOISE! FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY! WELCOME TO AN EVENING WITH THE DIVINITY OF MOCKERY - GIVE IT UP FOR MOMUS! - LIVE ON STAGE!

 

Hello out there! That was me doing that announcement before. I was that voice from just then. I don't know if you could tell. Announcing yourself on stage saves money. There’s a top tip right there. I'm Momus, in case you were finding that confusing. I'm the aforementioned god of comic mockery. I know I'm the only one up here on stage, but I don't want to make any assumptions about you guys. Some of you already look a little lost.

Anyway! Welcome, welcome, ladies and gentleman, if I might be so bold, or more accurately, if I might average out the audience in an upwards way. Thank you for coming to the show this evening. No doubt you had all sorts of other important things you could have done tonight - maybe your taxes, or finally pairing your socks, or whatever. But no, you decided to spend time with me. I'm flattered, audience. I won't lie, I don't mind the attention.

Go on, you lot, three rows from the back, take your seats, we're starting. Yes, I'm afraid I can see you back there. I have excellent vision. Also, despite your best intentions, it turns out that whispering loudly and fumbling about doesn't quite make you invisible. Who knew, right? Come on now, take your seats, ladies and gentlemen, so we can start. You people sure aren't into punctuality are you? Come on, mortals, what's the point of inventing systems of time measurement if you aren't going to use them? I mean, nature by its very movements of the sun gives you a head start on dividing your days into handy, easy to remember units, but you guys in the back figure "Time Shmime. Screw generations of philosophical and scientific research. What do those brainy arseholes know anyway? We'll go in to see the show when we feel like it’s the right time. Who does that Momus prick think he is up there on that stage? He can wait until we're good and ready."

You're good and ready, believe me. You might even be a bit beyond ready. You might be a bit overdone. You'd better take your seats and siddown.

 

What's that sir? You want me to know you're ready now? Oh, Good. Splendid. Wonderful. I don't know if you've done this sort of thing before, but just for future reference, if you feel the need during the show to shout out anything that comes into your head, then we could be here all night, and everybody has lives to be getting on with. So, sir, if you feel that need, or indeed, if anyone out there is overcome by that compulsion, if something really spectacular pops into your head, don't shout it at me during the show. Don't waste your genius like that, when the world may not be able to hear you. I want you to take that thought that pops into your head, and to write it down very carefully on a piece of paper. Then, after the show, take that piece of paper home and sit in a cold dark room, preferably something underground and soundproof, like a bunker, and just wait there until you hear from me. We'll be in touch.

You people okay there on the right? You've all got your drinks? Everyone got enough booze? And you've all been to the toilet? That bald guy over there looks likes he's just gone to the toilet in his seat. Look at him grinning like a giant baby. He's so proud.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen! Ladies and Gentlemen and giant baby-people! Welcome! Welcome to the show. My name is Momus, the god of comic mocking. I've gathered you here today because they already had the seats put in and it seemed like a good place to have a show. But the show tonight isn't really a show. That's just a disguise. This is really a lesson. A lesson in how I, Momus, want to found a city, and how in the process of planning that founding, I found out something bigger, something more far-reaching. I found out that pretty much everyone is an idiot. Hopefully, you folks here tonight are the exceptions. You've come here tonight to be entertained, but I'm hoping you aren't the normal run-of-the-mill, multi-pack dumb-dumbs out there. I gotta say, I'm starting to have some doubts looking over this part of the audience over here, but we'll see. Ma'am? Yes, I think you're a prime suspicious example. You've only got two hands, Ma'am, and if you keep trying to hold those four drinks and cram snacks into your mouth, it's gonna get messy. The snacks aren't going to run away, I promise, Ma'am. Just take your time. Relax. Your drinks aren't going to sprout little feet and make a dash for it, shouting back at you "Screw you! We're free! You had you chance! We're off!"

 

Where was I? Yes. Idiots. Dear sweet innocent audience, perhaps you have not noticed as you go about your lives, but there are idiots everywhere. We have a glut of stupidity in the world today. In fact, there's such a surplus of dumbness nowadays, that it's just completely devalued the market value of the idiot. Back in the day, an idiot was a special, beloved, cherished thing. You had the village idiot! The idiot savant! Idiot was a brand you could trust. But those days are behind us, folks. There are too many idiots out there. There's too much competition in the field of stupidity, we've produced too many idiots and the market has just completely collapsed. Nowadays, you can get a whole dozen idiots for no more than a single copper coin and a piece of broken mirror. It can't go on like this, folks. The government needs to step in and bail out the idiot industry if it has any hope of surviving.

 

Part of the problem is that humans are naturally so dumb. As a species, I mean, you guys seem to actively love being as numbskulled as possible. You get a little fizz of delight whenever you do something so stupid that even some of the tiniest-brained members of the animal kingdom look at you judgementally, and a lot of those same animals looking down on you eat their own poop. When the poop-eaters are getting snooty about your behaviour, it's time to start thinking about making a change.

Don’t worry, I've got a crazy idea that might help with that: stop believing stupid things all of the damn time. In fact, try not to believe too much at all. Believing things is like fibre, a little is good to make you crap, but go too far, and you're going to end up straining so hard that you turn yourself inside out. Too much belief and too much certainty is bad for you. And mortals love to believe ridiculous things. It’s one of your top-ten hobbies. F’r’instance, you believe in actors, fer heaven’s sake. And not just believe, you lose your handful of marbles over these kinds of vapid attention seekers. When I see mortals squeeing over actors, I admit it confuses the hell out of me. You know they just pretend to be other people, right? When your snotty two year old kid pretends to be a dragon you growl at her to stop bothering you, but some shmoe prances around in a costume and tries to look deep and tragic and you're convinced they're amazing! What the hell is that? Just because someone is dressed up as a king doesn't actually make them one, people! Come on now, come with me on this one. We're going to make a leap, not a leap of faith, a leap of education. Repeat to yourselves "People who pretend to be things are not actually really those things". Ready to make the leap with me? On your marks, get set, - let's make the leap of education together! No? Nobody? I tell you what: I'll go first, and you guys can make the jump later, right?

 

"This Momus guy, he's kinda harsh, Al," one of you might say, and his buddy responds, "Yeah, Perry, he is harsh. He's kind of a dick, man." It's not like that, honest, Al and Perry, I promise. Well, it's kind of like that. I mean, I am a bit of a dick, but I'm not going to lie to you folks. I’m trying hard not to lie to you. I'm not one of those individuals who flatters with untruths. On the other hand, I'm also working hard not to be someone who spreads the manure of ignorance about the place under cover of being someone who Tells it Like it Is and Doesn't Suffer Fools Gladly. Never trust that lot. People who say they 'Don't suffer fools gladly' actually meant to say something else and, as it happens, they have just accidentally mispronounced "I am a gigantic arsehole, and also, definitely such a big dumb fool that I think that I’m not foolish". I criticise because I care, ladies and gentlemen, also because it's my divine function and I had no say in the job I inherited. You guys have a choice! You can choose, not just from a wide range of delightful crap to buy, but you can even choose to be better. Go on! Any time you feel ready. I'll wait.

 

But I'm an honest anthropomorphic entity. That's not true for most of the rest of the world. If someone whines "Myyyaaaah - be HONEST with meeee", they actually mean, 'on no account be honest with me'. Nine times out of ten, what they want is a nice massage of comforting, but plausible, lies. I'm hopeless at that. I don't know how to make you feel better. Sadly, I'm a truthful guy. I'm not proud of it, but there it is. My secret shame. If I had any choice, I wouldn't be this way. It isn't easy being honest. Listen, kids, if you can at all help it, don't grow up to be honest. Nobody really likes honesty. What people like is to be told that they are beautiful, brilliant, and special. Tell them that, kids, and you'll grow up to be a big success! A vacuous and hypocritical success, but think of all the money and influence you'll have! Who wants to be honest? That gets you nuthin'. You hear me, kids? Are there any children out in the audience tonight? Give a shout! Over there? You have terrible parents. You shouldn't be here. It's way past your bedtime. Also, I may be moved to swear at some point. Don't imitate me when you get home, kids. Unless you want to look cool. In that case, swear like a sailor. Sailor your head off. Call your parents wrinkled, crusty old pricks. That's your homework. I'm here to educate, after all. To give back to the community.

 

But, you may say, sure you're handsome and witty, Momus, but what qualifies you to get up here tonight and tell brilliant jokes to attempt to better we of the audience? Well may you ask, dear audience, well may you ask, and kudos, by the way, for your powers of observation re: my obvious earthy sexiness - yes people DO tell me I look just like a handsome homeless goblin all the time, thank you. And you are right to feel a little smidge of star-struck awe as you gaze upon me up here on the stage, that's perfectly natural. After all, just look at me! Who wouldn't want a piece of Momus? No, I'm kidding, nobody wants me, because of my terrible honesty disease. But Momus, you say, gentle audience, dear gentle audience, so fond of whispering to me, Momus, aren't you someone important? You must be, to be given all that stage that stretches from side to side, all for you, and all these people have come here to listen to you and worship your sweet, sweet wisdom. And indeed, I don't want to brag, but I am a god. Wait, hang on, no need to laugh at that uproariously, I AM a god. I mean, not an especially famous one, sure, but still a god. I may not have a falcon's head, or multiple arms, and to the best of my knowledge I've never had sex with farm animals or captured maidens, which seem to be very popular past-times with a lot of other gods for some reason, but that doesn't invalidate my godliness. Rooting everything in sight is actually only an optional activity for deities, it isn't compulsory or anything. Not many people know that.

 

Look, seriously, you may not have heard of me, but trust me, I'm a god. The god of reproach. That's what my name, Momus, means: 'blame, reproach, disgrace'. It's not a great name, I'll admit, but every generation has their share of embarrassing names, even deities. I bet one of you out there spells their name in some ridiculous fashion, say with superfluous vowels, just because your thick-headed parents thought it would make them look interesting, the dumb selfish reproducing bastards. Among my family, there was a fad for unsubtle, single-entendre names. It'd be like that lady in the front row popped out of her mother's womb and they took one look at her and declared "She will be named Bumcheeks! For her face looketh strangely like the cheeks of the bottom." Or that guy over there would be named "Looks-like-he-wants-to-take-a-dump". What's that, sir? That's not your name? I imagine you prefer for your friends and family just to call you something like 'Dumpy', keep it light and casual in the office, yeah? They're all like "Heyyyy, whassup Dumpy? Did you catch that match over the weekend? We up for some brewskis this weekend? You da man, Dumpy. The Dump-meister!"

I didn't ask to be the god of mocking censure (that means saying mean but true funny things, my dear Dumpy and Bumcheeks). If I had a choice, I'd be the god of something cool, like lions, or explosions. But such is life, even for a deity. It isn't all deus ex machina-ing, abandoning children, and throwing lightning bolts. Being a god isn't all fricking ambrosia and skittles, at least, it isn't for me, ladies and gentlemen.

You know, I was actually kicked out of the gods' neighbourhood. Can you believe it? The committee of immortals evicted me! It was such bullshit too. You know how if you live in a row of houses, the local mob might turn into a hissing goddamn hydra because your door is a different colour? It was like that. "Your door is the wrong shade of puce," they say, and you shrug and say "What's the big goddamn deal? It's not faeces coloured or anything."

- "The Neighbourhood committee has decided that all doors in this street must be painted puce. You are lowering the value of our properties by failing to follow these instructions, and undermining the very fabric of our lives."

"Because my door is a different colour? I don't even know what the hell puce is!"

Yeah, listen, never trust a committee, ladies and gentlemen. A committee is a horrible chimera of a monster, made up of the stupidest parts of a whole range of morons, each part of the committee beast positively swelling with self-importance and a smug delight in its own glorious, time-crunching vapidity. You got your ancient heroes like Hercules and Gilgamesh who thought they were top shit because they killed a giant or a dragon, but I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that is play-fighting compared to trying to vanquish the grotesque beast of a committee. I couldn't beat mine, and that's why I got kicked out of my place. Like I said, I wasn't a bad neighbour, really, I was just the guy who didn't want to paint his door the same colour as everyone else, metaphorically.

So in my old neighbourhood, my ex-neighbourhood, you have all those other divinities who devote their time to inflicting stupid ideas on the earth and their creations, or trying to shag everything in sight, and I'm the bad neighbour? I’m not that terrible a guy. I never invented an animal as stupid as the panda, for instance, that has no interest in anything except sitting there until it goes extinct. That wasn't me. I was a decent immortal! I'm not the one who was having parties until four in the morning, zapping holes through the walls and setting everything on fire. What was my crime, then? Did I keep vicious dogs that I assured everyone absolutely definitely probably wouldn't attack you? Did I practice the art of ear-piercing throat-screaming at all hours? Did I go to take my garbage out but left it spilling half-way down my front lawn because I figured that was close enough? Nope, ladies and gents, all I did was make a few sensible suggestions. I may have gently implied to the other gods that if you were going to create such a thing as the bull, maybe don't put the eyes in such a ridiculous place. I might have suggested that maybe you could build houses that had wheels on them to transport the home - yeah, that's right, guys, I came up with that. I was ahead of my time as hell. Maybe I had a few thoughts about how to improve the design of humanity to encourage honesty and morality - I know, I know, what was I thinking? What a putz, right? That's not how to be part of a community! Your door is the wrong goddamn colour! That's not a team-player attitude! How are we supposed to promote proactive synergy in the pursuit of optimal stakeholder outcomes with that sort of twisted thinking, right? So they kicked me out. Booted me out of Godsville.

 

You know who they let stay up in that sweet-ass neighbourhood? Dionysos. You guys know who Dionysos is? He's a ludicrous god. The god of stupid people getting messed up. One fine evening, many, many generations ago, a pair of schmucks had been sinking beers for a few hours. I imagine their names were probably Travis and Bobby-Jim-Bob. They were both leaning into the gutter and vomiting and Travis sez to Bobby-Jim-Bobby, he sez "Broooo!" he sez, while shooting a perfect jet stream of puke, "Brooooooo! This is awesooooome! We're so goddamn wasted that we're, we’re awesome, y'know?"

Then Bobby-Jim-Bobby drops chunks of whatever soggy food he ate a couple hours back all down his front, grins stupidly, does a fart and nods, and sez "Yeaaah, Brah. We're so wasted. So freaking wasted. This is amazing. Thank god we have booze, man, amirite? High-five!"

Travis replies while he's still gushing watery spew like a cut-price fountain, so he sounds like he's talking underwater - all blubblubblub. "Yeaaaah, Broblubblubblub, thank god for beerblublubblub or we couldn't be so awesome!"

"Yeah, thank god -" and at this point, Bobby-Jim-Bobby's mouth filled up with liquid and chunks of sick and he said "Thank god Dwanarsusblargh," but Travis misheard that emission as a name, and that's how Dionysos, god of dumb drunk people got his name.

You know what Dionysos' origin story is? His father, Zeus, accidentally electrocuted his mum, so Pops decided he'd just incubate baby Dionysos in his leg. That's some top medical knowledge there, O Father of the Gods. Hell, maybe I shouldn't be so harsh on Dumbonysos. With that sort of start in life, maybe he never had a damn chance. I can't lie, though, I'm just a tiny, teensy, winsy, immense fricking bit bitter. Dionysos gets worshippers! He gets temples! He gets offerings! Lucky old Bacchus, hey? People know who he is. If I tell people that I'm Momus they screw up their faces like hamsters staring into the sunlight and squeak "Ummm. Mo-Muss? Is that, like, y'know, like some sort of hair conditioner?"

 

I tell you, there are heaps of gods, too many unnecessary gods - there's a god of War, f'r'instance. What'dye need a damn god of War for? That's like having a god of fatal sexually transmitted diseases. They don't need the encouragement. There are gods of light, time, crows, spring, winter, cats, money, books, motels, babies, snappy dressers, hypochondriacs, there's a god that's a puppet of snake - that's it, just a damn puppet. There's a god of getting things stuck in kitchen drawers, and one to help you find your keys. Everybody gets a slice of the action, except me. Everyone gets a myth. Do you know what my entry in Hesiod is? "The goddess murky Nyx, although she lay with none, bore Momos". That's it. There's a whole long section in Hesiod where he whinges like a cranky old misogynist about the creation of women, but all he says about me is that Ma was a single mum. I have hopes, too, people, I have dreams, I have ideals, just like everyone else! I deserve my own myths, my own damn stories. I mean, hell, do you know that Phaithon gets his own myth? Phaithon, the son of the Sun, whose great bloody claim to fame is that he stole his dad's flaming sun chariot and then crashed it. He was a hoon, a hooligan, a juvenile car thief! He doesn't deserve a damn myth!

 

So that got me thinking. What have these other gods got that I don't? Why are they more famous? I mean, most of them are either as weird as a flirty dancing elephant or they are dumb as a sack of damp fertiliser. I can do anything they can do, surely? It got me thinking. How do these other chump gods get so big? What do they have, besides empty heads and unrestrained libidos? Well, ladies and gents, I'll tell you one thing they have - they've got real estate. If you want people to remember who you are, there ain't nuthin' better than whacking your name on a great big building, or a street, or most ideally, on a city. It's pretty hard to ignore a city, isn't it? Every time you ask for directions, they'll remember you because they'll remember the place named after you. Hell, you don't even need to be a god to do this sort of thing. Alexander the Great loved himself almost as much as he loved naming cities after himself, and he got so casual about it, that little terror could slap his name on his new city, and run off to do some more conquering without even bothering to look back. That's some baller stuff right there, folks.

"Commander Alexander, we will name this city in your honour!"

"Yeah, cool. Right. Let's hit the road."

"But, um, sir, we went to the trouble of founding this city, it was - it was actually quite a lot of work. Couldn't you, maybe, couldn’t you just take a quick look at it?"

"Nope. Time is money. Let's hit the road, baby. Conquering never sleeps."

"Really, sir? I mean, it's just literally behind you, all you have to do is turn your head slightly. You don't even need to get off your horse, sir."

"Fergit it, sweetcheeks. Never look back. That's my motto. A.B.C., man - Always Be Conquering."

And without even checking out his own city, off he rode on his mighty steed Bukephalous, to sally forth to other lands and eventually die of alcohol poisoning or something.

 

Apollo has a city - Delphi, where he kept his high-class place, the Pythian Oracle. Apollo had damn everything. What's he god of? Archery, plague, wisdom, music. "Say, son," says his Dad, Zeus, "I got this new thing called prophecy. You wanna be god of that too?"

"You betcha, pops," he says, the perfect-toothed prat, "You betcha, I reckon I can really make something of prophecy. It's an exciting growth area. I'm gonna give a bit of expansion to the old family business."

"Atta boy!"

That was a momentous moment - not the invention of prophecy, ladies and gentlemen - this was the moment when they invented nepotism.

So Apollo has his business to set up on Delphi, and he has a whole founding myth. You gotta have a founding myth. You can't just go "And Lo! I founded our great city in this very place on that day because I thought it looked quite nice, and also my legs were tired and I needed to sit down somewhere."

Apollo knew you needed a big opening act for your place-myth, so he killed a snake, the mighty Python, and that's why his place was named the Pythia, as a big screw-you to the animal he murdered to shit for being dumb enough to get in the way of his takeover. The mighty Python! But come on, it was just a little snake. Honestly, folks. He killed a little defenceless snake with a bow and arrow and he's meant to be amazing? He was armed and the snake didn't even have arms! And every time Golden Boy told that story that snake got bigger and bigger. It started out as no bigger than a noodle, folks, but by the time myth was done with it, you'd think that little wiggler was gigantic enough to swallow the sun.

 

What about those two loveable Roman scamps, Romulus and Remus? You've heard about them, right? They got in on the whole Rome deal early, didn't they? Before Rome was big. Man, if you could have got in on the ground floor of that deal, y'know, reserved a bit of that land before it got built, maybe some hypothetical apartment space, think what a mint you could have made! Hoo, man, when it comes to investing, there’s nothing more real than real estate, guys. Of course, Romulus and Remus have got a pretty ridiculous myth, too. They've got a divine parent, but they end up abandoned in the forest, and a wolf comes across them, but that wolf is confused, confused as hell, Jack, it's a disgrace to all patriotic, right-thinking wolves everywhere. That wolf doesn't think to itself, "Ah! Some little children! You always get the best snacks in this forest. I should remind folks to try the truffles some time. They're to die for." Naw, what this she-wolf thinks is, "I've been talking for too long about doing something to help with overpopulation of the planet. Rather than eat these tasty children, I will raise them in place of having wolf children of my own. As a modern, socially-conscious wolf, I don't discriminate between wolves and babies. I'm very forward-thinking and tolerant that way."

So those two kids are raised by this very open-minded wolf, and then they grow up and leave home and never call their poor wolf mother and only come back to the forest when they need some clothes washed. And at some point they decide it's probably time to strike out and found the Eternal City of Rome. Except they get into an argument over where to put the walls, and like a bunch of stupid kids fighting over sandcastles at the beach, they start a punch-up, and Romulus clobbers his brother Remus to death. Their wolf mother is very, very disappointed at this behaviour, because that's not how she raised her boys. To the victor go the spoils, or the walls, or whatever, and so Romulus names a city after himself, which is what you must always remember to do when founding your city. With Romulus’ victory the world is denied the town of Reme ever more, not to mention the Reman Holiday, the expression that all roads lead to Reme, Remantic novels, and Rem-com films.

Murder! That really seems to help set the cement in your city. Better if you can kill something monstrous, but if that's not available, killing a relative or loved one seems to works pretty well too.

 

So, what have we learned so far? Clearly it helps to beat up some terrible beast to shore up your reputation when founding a city. That's my first step here tonight. We're going to found a city for me, a Momusstad, to finally put me on an equal footing with all those other famous people. You, ladies and gentlemen of the audience, will be the first citizens of this noble hypothetical city, because you have mostly showed a base-level of taste and intelligence in coming out to this performance tonight. I mean, I'm still a bit suspicious about that whole bunch over there that seemed to have nodded-off half-way through, and the lot in the back corner who laugh in places where the jokes haven't arrived yet, but I think on average you ladies and gents will make fine founders of our new hypothetical city of witty criticism, Momusstad! I was going to go with Momusville or Momusia, but the first one sounded a bit like it was just mumbling and the second one sounded like a sort of disappointing cocktail. So I'm going with Momusstad. Chant it with me! MOMUSSTAD! MOMUSSTAD! MOMUSSTAD? Actually, now that I say it loud, it does sound a bit like 'Momus is dead', or 'Momus is Dad', neither of which is true, honest, folks. We'll work on the name later. Let's keep it for the moment until we come up with something better.

 

Right now, I'm going to take the first step in founding Momusstad. Momusburg? Whatever. I'm going to dramatically kill something for your entertainment, live here on stage! Yes, you get your money's worth with me, folks. I thought about finding a poison-breathing dragon or a half-goat-half-dinosaur-half-sausage-dog thing to battle, but you would not believe how damn hard it is to find exotic monsters to fight these days. Luckily, I have in this here jar the deadly MEGAMOTH!

...Look, hang on, no chuckling, people, I know it's a moth, but it's really big for a moth. It used to bully all the other smaller moths at moth school. It's a MEGAMOTH. And who knows, maybe it has razor-wings or laser-eyes or something? I don't know anything about moths, but it could well be deadly. Now, stand back, ladies and gentlemen, as I release this untamed flying beast, and I will strike it down with this little wooden sword I brought tonight for this very purpose. Please stay well back and don't attempt this sort of dangerous feat on your own. I am an immortal, after all. Now we open the jar ever so gently - behold! How the Megamoth rages in its little prison, wings beating furiously, beating, beating for destruction, probably! And now it emerges... and I STRIKE! Hang on...crap, I STRIKE! Hold still, you little flapping bastard. I'll just leap at you, hang on, keep still. Fine, I'll just chase you over here then...

Crap, okay, I think the Megamoth has escaped. We’ll fix that in the myth, all right, ladies and gentlemen? Let's just tick off the violent murder portion of the city-founding forms and we'll move on, shall we?

 

So the 'Watering the city's ground with blood' bit is more or less done. Let's turn to look at another important part of founding your mythical, reputation-enhancing city. It helps grease the whole process along if you can convince the locals that they are getting a real deal out of giving you a city. F’r’instance, Golden Boy Apollo was working that prophecy angle in Delphi. Sometimes, you gotta tender to get the rights to a city. Athena and Poseidon had to compete in their bids to get the patronage of Athens, but you can tell from the name of the place which way they voted. Athena offered them the olive tree as a bribe, and the locals were like: "Bam! We'll take that! Will you look at that gosh damn thing? Olives! Wow! We can build a local industry out of that! Someone go out and invent fiddly unfilling bar snacks and I think we can make this whole olive thing take off." Meanwhile, that poor saphead Poseidon, god of the seas is all like, "But come on you guys, I thought we were cool, look what I'm offering if you name the place Poseidonopolis." And all the Athenians stood around and shook their heads and said "Man, that's just some salty water you've offered us. That can't compete with olives."

Poseidon waxed wroth and roared "No, you dickheads, that's not just salty water, and don't you dare report that as my gift in your myths, or I'll sue the lot of you for libel. I'm offering you so much more than just salty water, dudes, you just don't get it. I'm offering you the greatest gift I have to offer - THE BEACH - the most beautiful, relaxing place on the earth, where sand meets salty sea and sun rays and surf to provide the only perfect place to holiday from the terrible crappiness of everyday life."

But the Athenians just really liked the idea of tiny ovoid snacks, so they went that way instead. And to this day, Athenians have a very deep tension with the beach, and whenever they go on holiday there, sand gets in everything and seagulls always try to shit everywhere. This is Poseidon's curse.

 

So what do I have to offer to you discerning Ladies and Gentlemen tonight, besides a few good honest laughs and a serving of mockery? Let me just see what I have in my pockets. Umm, a couple of coins, the half-eaten remains of a biscuit, and uhhhh... looks like an old handkerchief. Just share that bounty amongst yourselves. I'll just hand it over there. Come on now, fair divisions all! Nobody in the crowd should take more than their fair fraction. Fairness is going to be very important in our new state. Share it out, share it out, no licking the sacred biscuit, sir. Thank you, keep passing my bounty along, that means you ma'am - I know how many coins there were to start with. No nicking 'em. Just touch 'em and pass 'em on. Sure, I guess you can kiss the coins if you like. Looks like transmitting disease is going to be bigger in our new city than I had planned. I'm sorry there isn't more to go around. I'm the god of satirical mockery, not the god of abundant freebies. I don't know how to do that trick with the magic wine and fishes and loaves and whatever, I'm afraid.

Right! Now that you've all partaken of a fraction of my offerings, I officially declare you the founding citizens of Momusstad, ladies and gents! Give yourselves a round of applause!

 

Now, what's the next most important thing for a city to have? Go on, ladies and gentlemen, shout it out, let me hear your thoughts! This is the audience involvement section of the show. What's that? Good sewage? That's a practical audience member there. That’s so sexy that you worry about drainage. You can bet that someone who thinks about proper civic plumbing is gonna be dynamite in the sack. What else? Parks? Sure, people need somewhere for their dogs to shit, absolutely. Yes? Over there? What? Water slides? I like that you're thinking big, madame, and although I don't know that it would be on the list of the first ten things I'd want to put in a city, or even in my first one hundred things, I thank you for your creative contribution. What else? Shops? Sure! Restaurants! Absolutely! Huh? Blaghrs? Baarse? Oh, Bars. Yes, sir, as one of the valued citizens of Momusstad, we must ensure there are enough places serving booze to prevent you from sobering up enough to pronounce 'Bars' properly.

 

Anything else? Anyone? Did someone say the deterrence display of massive armed forces? No? You were just about to say something like that? I'm sure that's what you were going for. Now, folks, I don't have all the answers, but I don't want us to jump straight to parading displays of armed lunatics and high-tech weapons under the pretext of order and security as some sort of civic overcompensation for our insecurities. We here in Momusstad are forward-thinkers, and are untrusting of someone who needs to use something pointed to make their point. I'm not ruling out all deadly items and trained murderers, mind, but I think our first tactic, our initial response to hostility will go another way. Momusstad will rely on extensive spying, sneaking, gossiping, and other forms of information-gathering to create gargantuan dirt files on absolutely everyone. That way, if anybody gets too preachy, speechy, invadey, stabby, or grabby, we will reveal and publicise to everyone around the world the most choice, tasty, embarrassing and hilarious secrets about the enemies of the glorious state of Momusstad. Public ridicule and comic exposure will be our main weapons of maintaining peace and quiet here, ladies and gentlemen.

"But what about those who do not fear being mocked, Great Leader Momus?" I hear you think, because of how loud you think. Well, citizens, I ain’t gonna pretend to know it all, but in my experience, the sort of person who doesn't mind being told they're a bit ridiculous tends to be less inclined to want to crush everyone else. That'll be one of the key tests of Momusstadian citizenship! Official testers won't care who you are or where you come from, but will thoroughly mock with professional analysis those who plan to settle in our city. If the testers don't get abused or punched in the face, then that individual is the sort of honest citizen we want in Momusstad!

 

What else does a city need? You're forgetting the most important thing, folks. The number one, top-of-the-list, single most significant thing that makes a city a city. What? Who shouted out 'people'? Getouttahere with that touchy-feely crap, ma'am. This isn't a hug convention. Who the hell wants to invite people? They'll show up anyway. No sense in encouraging the pests. No, no, the single most essential part of citifying a city is...a MOTTO! A motto lets the rest of the world know that we are a serious institution! It shows that we have values that can be expressed in a pithy statement! Also, it show that we have some basic literacy. Most city mottoes are pretty inane or boring, to be honest, and don't really say anything about the city itself. Momusstad will be better than that, my dear citizens! We won't settle for some rinky-dink, sawdust-skulled, mush-mouthed motto! No sir! Most people don't even know what their city motto is, which isn't surprising, I guess, because most people couldn't point to another city on a map. But we won't have a forgettable motto, citizens! No! We will have a motto for the ages! An unforgettable phrase! Picture it with me, ladies and gentleman. On the great portals of the eternal city of Momusstad our motto will be inscribed in glittering letters, ten feet high! And as mortals and gods enter our city they will look up and see those letters, that they will sound out to themselves very slowly, and probably moving their lips - the official motto of Momusstad in giant letters - DON'T BE SO STUPID. That will be our guiding principle, ladies and gentlemen. Don't Be So Stupid.

Now, folks, you can see, I'm a realist, I don't expect Momusstad to be stupidity free - how can such a thing be possible in this world? It is to dream! No, all I ask of you and your fellow citizens is that you wake up each morning, and as you stretch and fart your way out of bed, you promise yourself to try and reduce the idiocy in your life, even if only by a small, tiny, minuscule, almost undetectable amount. Do it for me, beloved citizens, do it for little ol' Momus, and do it for yourselves, citizens - nay, do it for your species. At the rate you kill yourselves off with bad choices, self-destructive stubbornness, and inexplicable, incomprehensible, inexcusable brain failures, you can't last much longer. I don't have to worry about that sort of thing, I'm an immortal, remember? But your lot seems intent on wiping yourselves out by deep frying anything you can get with one hand, while trying to choke the person next to you with the other hand. And you'll sit there, smeared in your own filth and blood and mess, and you will grin and salute and swell with pride, singing out that you live in the best gosh damn place on the earth.

Maybe don't be so sure, citizens. And if you can’t be less sure, don’t be so stupid.

 

Thank you, you've been a wonderful audience! I've been Momus, god of critical mocking, and you've been a reasonably well behaved mob tonight! Thank you, and good night, noble citizens of Momusstad!