Funny Story: Q.E.D.

Farmer John's crops were failing. His wheat fell victim to blight, his cornstalks refused to sprout, and his prize pumpkins, normally the largest in town, lost the annual fair for the first time in decades. He needed help.

Farmer John visited a botanist. "You need to go water your plants," the botanist said, "but the water shouldn't be too cold, or too hot. And you should neither give them too much, nor too little." Farmer John returned to his fields and attempted to follow the botanist's advice to the letter, but no matter how lukewarm the water was and how moderate its amount, his crops would not get better.

Next, Farmer John visited a behavioral psychologist. "You need to apply operant conditioning to your plants," the psychologist said. "Give them rewards for good behavior and punish bad behavior. So, water them if they grow, but refuse to give them any water if they don't." Farmer John tried the psychologist's tactics, but still, his crops did not get better.

Farmer John asked a lawyer for help. The lawyer offered to draw up a contract for the plants to agree to that would legally compel them to grow, but the crops didn't sign when he left the paper in front of them. Farmer John asked his mother, who said to give his plants unconditional love. Farmer John even asked a physicist, who started to say "Well, consider a spherical cornstalk," before Farmer John refused to hear any more and left. Even still, Farmer John's crops did not get better.

Desperate, Farmer John visited the church, even though he was not a religious man. He explained everything he had gone through to the vicar and begged for help.

"Bring me your dirt," the vicar said.

"Bring you... my dirt?" said Farmer John, taken aback.

"Yes. Go and bring me your dirt."

Farmer John thought that this sounded absurd, but to be fair, he had been given stranger advice in the past months, so he returned to his farm, shoveled the dirt from his cornfield, the dirt from his wheat field, and the dirt from his pumpkin patch into a very large cart, and brought it to the vicar, who stared at it.

"You can take the dirt back," said the vicar after some time.

"That's it?" asked Farmer John. "You're not going to sprinkle it with holy water? You're not going to exorcise it or convert it to Christianity? You won't ask it to recite the Lord's prayer?"

"That's it," said the vicar. Farmer John, very bewildered, brought the dirt back to his farm and shoveled it back onto his fields. And though he could never figure out why, from that point on, his crops grew quickly and his harvests were bountiful, and he won the annual pumpkin contest from then on.

Moral: (2 3 5 2 3 5)

At a gathering of all his noblemen in the middle of a famine, a much-feared king announced that the tribute of grain he needed from them was to double. All his lords, dukes, barons, and almost all of his counts stayed silent, wary of the king's wrath. However, the king's favorite count, with whom he often feasted and went hunting, stood and objected. The count shouted to the room that the little grain left was worth too much to give up, that the tax was unfair, and that he would not pay it. The king had him thrown in the dungeons and soon visited him there.

"I can't let you defy me before all the noblemen," the king said. "The other noblemen would no longer fear me. They would band together and rebel, replacing me with some duke who wants my throne. If you don't acquiesce to the grain tax, I'll have to have you executed. Is this worth your life?"

"Is our friendship is worth so little?" the count asked. "I have known you for many, many, years, and you wouldn't kill me."

"Our friendship is worth much," the king said, "but it's not worth risking my kingdom." He signaled to the guards. They brought the count out to the public square, putting his neck on the chopping block. A hooded executioner raised a huge hatchet over his head, and when the king nodded, began to swing it down.

"I'll pay! I'll pay!" the count shouted at the last second. The king quickly shouted at the executioner to stop. But it was too late, and the count's head was cleaved from his body.

Moral: (4 7 4 6 6 4 7)

Living on a nuclear submarine is always exciting. Especially when your best friend starts going insane.


Kilroy looked up from his simple meal, mildly puzzled by Nate's overreaction. There were no alarms going off, no emergency red lights, just him, Nate and their meager dinner.

"They've mounted an attack on the capital," Nate muttered to himself, casting sidelong glances all over the sub's machinery, "The calls will soon come to return to port, but it'll be a trap... yes yes"

Kilroy approached his friend cautiously. When Kilroy had just been a lowly midshipman, Nate had taken him under his wing and taught him how to be tough and deal with the pressures and pains of the military. But now, it seemed that Nate himself had succumbed to those pressures.

Kilroy had barely raised a comforting hand to Nate's shoulder when Nate spun around wild-eyed. "YOU! YOU'RE PART OF THEIR SPY NETWORK, AREN'T YOU? WELL I'D RATHER DIE THAN LET YOU TAKE ME ALIVE!!"

Nate suddenly ran off with Kilroy chasing after him. At first, Kilroy hoped that he could just contain his friend, but as the chase turned towards the nuclear heart of the vessel, his heart sank. When Kilroy finally caught up, he saw Nate trying to pull the EMERGENCY: NUCLEAR MELTDOWN lever.

"I'm sorry, Nate," Kilroy whispered, drawing his service pistol out slowly, "It pains me to do this, but I just can't let you pull that lever."

There was a flash of light and then silence.

Moral: (6 4 4 5)

The whole town was abuzz about the grand opening of the new tapas bar, and the local food critic was the first in line on opening day. Since the chef was totally new to the restaurant industry, the critic had no idea what his cooking style was like and was excited to be the first to set his reputation down.

Once the doors opened, the food critic was seated by the chef's brother, a fact that he repeated countless times to her. At first, she acted amiably towards him, trying to curry favor with the cook, but quickly realized that the brother had no sense of taste or class. She furiously scribbled her angry observations about his lack of food appreciation.

"What an uncultured boor," she wrote as she watched the man try to stow some of the nicer silverware down his pants leg. "Please, don't," she thought, as he belched loudly after swigging a giant bottle of soda. "Has he even set foot in a restaurant before?" She soon began to worry about her own fate: "If this is the chef's brother, what kind of monstrosity am I going to have for dinner?"

When the food finally came, she sniffed snootily at it before finally deigning to take a small nibble. As soon as she took one bite of the shrimp, all of her preconceptions were blown out of the water. The cook was nothing like his brother - all of the nuance and flavor he had packed into that one shrimp represented the complete antithesis of his brother's crude actions.

Moral: (4 5 1 4 2 3 7)

Tensions ran high at last year's Moovision Song Contest. This was the last chance for the Bovine Bachelor to prove to the Moovision judge that he was the superior singing act. It seemed to the Bovine Bachelor that the judge only crowned the Dairy Duet champion because of the Duet's family friendship with the Bush family, not by their actual music ability. But how could the Bovine Bachelor fight against this favoritism?

In the last few nights before the competition, the Bovine Bachelor finally found how to improve his performance. "If it is preferable to have two cows singing over one cow," the Bachelor thought, "then if I incorporated a whole herd of cows in my act, the judge would be totally wowed!" The Bachelor posted several fliers around town and recruited enough musically gifted cows to rename his group "The Bovine Band."

The plan worked! The Bovine Band gave such a stunning performance that the judge just couldn't decide whether to reward the Dairy Duet's presidential connections or the Bovine Band's multi-cow act. After much consultation, the judge decided to award first place to both groups for the first time in Moovision history.

Moral: (1 4 2 3 4 2 5 3 2 3 4)

An upstart fashion designer was putting the finishing touches on her newest outfit the afternoon before a fashion show. The look consisted of a cowboy hat, an aquamarine scarf, a half-plaid, half-paisley dress, and slippers. What it lacked was one detail: what to go around the waist?

The designer had initially considered a simple belt, but that would not do: to impress the critics, she thought, the thing had to be inventive, and belts had simply been done to death. The designer tried chains, ropes of various kinds and a silken sash, but she found none satisfying. She tried a telephone cord, caution tape, and an oversize lampshade, but none had the spark she was looking for.

After many hours, the designer visited the nearest toy store for inspiration. She searched the aisles, looking for something, anything that would do. A stuffed animal rattlesnake? No, snakeskin was out until next season at least, so that would not do. A Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train? Never mind, the tracks it would go on made an awful contrast with the dress. Finally, the designer settled on the perfect thing to wrap around the waist: a rubber chicken. Everyone knew rubber was sexy, after all.

That night, as a model walked down the runway wearing the designer's outfit, complete with faux fowl, the crowd gasped in shock. "The other pieces are intriguing," said a well-known fashion magazine editor, "but what is that thing around the waist?" The designer was panned, and her career was suddenly over.

Moral: (1 5 2 1 8 5 2 4)

"What did you bring those here for?" Mrs. Hrmph was shouting.

"Where else was I supposed to put them?" Her husband spread his arms sheepishly.

"You should have left them! Or sold them! But you shouldn't have brought them here! We'll need another couple grass houses to put all the junk you keep around."

Three large thrones stood in the middle of the small living room. The lanky Mr. Hrmph had brought one in each hand and one in his teeth. A king's caravan had ridden past where he was gathering more grass to insulate their roof, and when the thrones tumbled off he hadn't been able to stop himself. These were real, live thrones! There were still dozens left! Who would notice? Even if the king did, Mr. Hrmph thought to himself, he should be glad to share. He shouldn't be greedy.

"...drags these useless lumps of wood into my living room, soils the carpet, doesn't even bring back any grass..." Mrs. Hrmph grumbled as she wove strands into the wall to cover up a small hole the porcupines had nibbled. Her husband kissed her gently on the nose.

"I'll just put them in the cellar," he said. But when he tried to fit the first ample throne through the narrow path to the cellar, the legs of the throne punched through the woven wall, snagged on some blades of grass, and altogether brought the little grass house down! The roof tore in half and fell in a green mass over the couple. The two struggled to their feet.

Just then a caravan rounded the corner. At the sight of the broken house the king fell off his horse. "My thrones!" he shouted angrily. "Seize them!" he ordered his guards, pointing at the people in possession of his stolen thrones. And the Hrmphs were never heard from again.

Moral: (6 3 4 2 5 6 8 4 7)

Once I caught an enormously terrible beast! It was so big that when I tried to lock the monster up, it would shriek as if hurt. I tried to shove it into a locker, but the creature yelped when I slammed the door on its toe. When I set up an electric fence, the behemoth yowled in agony. Even when I placed the leviathan in a padded room, it still somehow injured itself enough to cry out with terrible anguish. No matter where I tried to put it, the monster's distressed roars would cascade down the hall, making me feel really terrible about capturing it in the first place.

Moral: (4 2 5, 2 5)