Princess Pricklepants and the Open Letter to the Australia Tourism Bureau


Dear Australian Tourism Bureau,

First thanks for having an Australia to promote as a Tourism Bureau, it’s a lovely place.  We had a genuinely delightful trip to your continent/country.  While we saw only a little of a huge place, what we saw was wonderful, excellent, and amazing.  But.  Unfortunately, with all due respect, and in full politeness, you have failed us terribly as a country, continent, and tourism bureau.

You might not be familiar with who we are, since Her Highness is not so well known in Australia, so we should briefly introduce ourselves.

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We are hedgehog aficionados, regular commenters on hedgehog culture, and deeply dedicated to the study of hedgehog arts, literature, history, etc.  Therefore, the echidna, the most hedgehog-like animal was the one we specifically visited Australia to meet. And yet, somehow, we did not see a single echidna.*

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We saw this kangaroo mom with her joey, mom standing in an area that seemed like a fine meeting place for echidnas, yet look very, very carefully at that photo. The most prominent aspect of the photo is a clear lack of echidna.

Echidna-ness-less matters deeply to us.  Not only are echidnas very hedgehog-esque, making them subjects of great interest, but they are also monotremes who lay eggs and raise their young in a pouch like a platypus and have a very ancient divergence from other mammals that makes them extremely fascinating.  The fact that they are adorable also made them a very important animal to meet.  Look at this photo someone else took when they were blessed with a meeting with an echidna!

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Everyone in the world obviously would want to meet one of those, and as a tourism bureau you know this! Naturally, we assumed Australia would deliver on our reason for going there.

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Echidnas aren’t Australia’s national animal (oddly), but they are still a prominent national symbol.  Looking closely at this Australian flag, you might spot the echidna cleverly embedded in it…

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It’s part of the echidna constellation.  Echidnas play a large and prominent role as a national symbol, another reason we came to the Homeland of Echidnas (our motto for Australia which we really think Australia ought to adopt, please consider this, Australian Tourism Bureau).

It’s such a lovely place.  Gorgeous coastlines everywhere and beaches that feel like this:

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We began our trip in Tasmania, which is a majestic wonderful place full of rugged natural beauty and very long hikes that leave your legs sore but you happily run out and do more of the next day. There are so many beautiful and fascinating habitats all full of slightly odd but lovely plant species (so many lovely mosses and ferns and the fern trees are glorious), as well as animals that were all new and interesting.

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Wild koalas are fascinating and adorable and we saw them a number of times! Amazing!  What’s also amazing is that many and various websites discussing these areas mentioned echidnas as a thing you would see sometimes, we were fully expecting to meet an echidna to help promote interspecies friendship and understanding, yet there were none.   Many of those websites mentioning the high echidna levels contained in Tasmania had ads from the Australian Tourism Bureau so you knew full well that you were promoting this information that was completely false as we met no echidnas.  Our concerned queries to locals claimed that it was colder so they were going into hibernation, a thing these websites had not mentioned, or maybe something we skimmed past a bit.  No echidnas.  This is on you Australia.

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We did have the distinct pleasure of meeting Molly the wombat and having some really wonderful talks/experiences with her and several other wombats. We stayed at the Wombat Haven in Tasmania, an orphanage for wombats whose mothers have died (generally in car accidents).  Wombats are rather unusual in that they’re very playful and sweet as children (young wombats are called “joeys”), but they hit a terrible teen stage where all bonding to humans is dropped, and they become the grumpy, solitary, and kind of frightening animals we know and love in the wild without issues from initial human and/or hedgehog contact.  We guiltlessly pet a wombat joey and played with it. They are very playful and intelligent little wonderful creatures of marvel and happiness.

Molly The Wombat Meets the Princess

We enjoyed introducing Molly to the Pricklepants Media Empire.  She was delighted.  We worked on opening up possible interspecies kindness and mutual tolerance were hedgehogs and wombats to interact.

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We also introduces Molly to hedgehog art, which she was also delighted by.  She liked this notebook’s art so much she even tried to eat it!

So, with that kind of an experience with a wombat (a creature rare to see in the wild, though we did see one in Hobart at the Waterworks Reserve), a creature much less common to encounter than an echidna in Australia, we assumed this portended well for the Echidna Emissary Quest we had made the long journey for.

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We saw a lot of very pretty parrots in the trees in Australia like this crimson rosella.  Just look at it!

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There were a lot of parrots.  These red-rumped parrots were also fairly common.  It was a little distracting, since we know echidnas do not dwell in trees, but we had to look in them regularly as there were parrots in them. We still did monitor every potential echidna habitat with great care.

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We spent a lot of time at aquatic habitats like this one where we saw this lovely white-necked stilt.  The shore birds were sometimes the same as those one would see elsewhere in the world, but with many species like this that have similar relatives elsewhere making them extra interesting.

For instance, these brolga are huge cranes with relatives like the sandhill cranes in the US.  Magnificent creatures, and an absolute privilege to be able to see such a glorious thing in nature.

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While the parrots were the show stealers, the finches were absolutely gorgeous.  The red-browed finches above are also known as Firetails for their bright red rumps.  We also saw a wild flock of zebra finches which was fascinating and wonderful!

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We saw a lot of rainbow lorikeets, another bird common in the pet trade out in the wild living their best rainbow lorikeet lives, which was wonderful.  Again note that in all these pictures there have been no echidnas!

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One parrot we saw quite a lot of was cockatoos.  They’re very beautiful birds.

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While beautiful, they did attempt to steal our binoculars. They can become a bit too clever if people leave food out for them, though this is really a human-related issue.

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Cockatoos are very clever. Despite our directing the handservants to close that lid and even put a rock on it, they managed to find their way in.

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We also saw emu chicks, and melted inside.  Emus get to be about as big as ostriches.

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Please, share the road with Emus.

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We did meet one King Parrot, and it was delightful to make a calling on parrot royalty.  While slightly less polite than we had expected, they were very noble, lovely, graceful, and generally stunning. Their etiquette issues only appeared in areas humans were hand feeding them, which is a human issue, really.  They remained uninterested in our Echidna Emissary Quest.

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The Great Ocean Road was especially beautiful as there were lovely islands, beaches, habitats with various interesting creatures, a fern rainforest that was near magical, and general loveliness all around.

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We also met a number of laughing kookaburras.  Their call is featured as a generic “jungle” sound in various movies, like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tarzan, Jurassic Park and other films not set in Australia which made hearing them very curious.  They’re very patient birds that don’t mind people or hedgehogs much, so they were very nice, though none had seen echidnas.

Another Great Ocean Road View

I don’t think we mentioned the lighthouses, but there many lovely sweeping views from the cliffs, and the heather and other habitats we meandered through were all lovely in themselves and full of birds, especially fairy-wrens.

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Fairy-wrens!  Superb fairy-wrens are cute little birds, small puffs that are fairly curious and great tiny hunters. The males are incredibly lovely in their breeding plumage (less showy but still lovely in their non breeding plumage).

There are so many other new and fascinating things we saw, like spoonbills.

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And New Holland Honeyeaters that were incredibly common.

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And so many birds of prey!  Many kites, a number of hawks, and even a few falcons.  And we saw the strange and super-cleverly camouflaged frogmouth.

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We saw the frogmouth at the Serendip Sanctury where it was captive and part of a breeding program.  Despite much time spent searching for frogmouths at the Victoria Botanical Gardens (lovely place) and elsewhere we did not find any.  Much like echidnas.

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We also met many wallabies as well which are macropods like the kangaroo, but smaller and more common in most areas we were in.

Honeymoon cove

While we have mentioned the breathtaking views, they were really stunning.  This is honeymoon cove in Freycinet National Park.  It’s literally impossible to look at this cove and not experience a sense of awe, wonder, and delight.  And yet even with that, there is still that nagging sense of lack of echidnas.*  Australia Tourism Bureau, why did you hide the echidnas from us? We don’t expect a refund, that would be unreasonable.  But we would be very pleased and happily accept were you were to offer a replacement Echidna Emissary Quest so we could have a do-over and find your national animal.

Kind and Noble Regards,

Princess Pricklepants

(and handservants not notable enough to be named)

*  We did see one echidna in a wildlife rescue

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this doesn’t count.  It was nearly hibernating, and since we must meet animals in the wild in their natural habitat for it to actually count.**

** Also, at one point drive we were driving along the road, the handservant driver spotted the echidna, turned around to investigate, but the echidna fled almost instantly, long before there was any hope of a photographic record which makes spotting wildlife count doubly since there’s clear evidence and nearly properly counts.***

*** To properly count we need an excellent photo.

Eastern Rosella vs Noisy Miner

For example, this photo’s reasonably well shot for an action shot, nicely composed, tells a story that’s very interesting, and has great things going on with color.  We expected something similar with an echidna, obviously.****

**** Now we’re done with these footnotes.  If you’re reading this, thank you for your careful followup and attention to detail.

 

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Princess Pricklepants, Disliker of Manners


Dear reader,

After a helpful delay to teach readers patience, we have returned.  In the interim there’ve been few messages other than Quentin saying things we won’t repeat on this blog to avoid embarrassing him.

Things have been marching along with Her Highness’ education, without any notable issues or events.  She saved Tokyo, continued in truly fascinating art research, had a Disney adventure, and a few other things, but nothing so noteworthy as to mention in a blog.

And so we begin our story with a picture with words under it.*

*We also being our sentences with conjunctions.

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Princess Pricklepants woke up to another day of learning to be the proper Princess she was born to be, regardless of free will.

Her manners education was not a thing she was very pleased about.  Living with Dinomarm, her manners educator, was not like My Fair Hedgehog. Dinomarm made her walk with books on her head to develop grace and poise.

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The staying on the head part really never quite worked out, and Her Highness really wasn’t so sure about grace and poise.

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Worse, there were tables to crawl under with great grace and poise, but apparently this was poor etiquette according to some picky manners instructors.

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She also had to wear fancy hats.  She was not fond of wearing fancy hats.  Not at all. She was certain that hedgehogs were not born to wear hats.

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Sometimes hats were even worse.

Since she wasn’t delighted by her manners lessons, for a while she’d tried to find places to hide.

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The living room’s IKEA table was too small.

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The kitchen’s IKEA table was also too small.

With no places to hide, Princess Pricklepants decided she did not want to be a hedgehog princess anymore.

And so, Princess Pricklepants decided to be a squirrel.

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Being a squirrel was not bad at first, but when she got hungry, she learned that squirrels eat acorns.  She did not like eating acorns at all. Princess Pricklepants did not want to be a squirrel any more.

And so Princess Pricklepants decided to be a Viking.

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Being a Viking sounded great at first, though when she found out about needing to ride in boats and raid villages in East Anglia, it sounded less great.  When she decided to eat, though, that’s when it all fell apart.  Apparently Vikings only eat lutefisk, and that’s not something anyone should ever eat, really.  Also Vikings wear hats.

Princess Pricklepants did not want to be a Viking any more.

And so Princess Pricklepants decided to be a pirate.

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It turns out there’s really very little difference between being a pirate, and being a Viking, besides the food, but pirate food is best left not discussed, since it’s almost as bad as Viking food.  Also Pirates wear hats.

Princess Pricklepants didn’t want to be a Pirate any more.

And so Princess Pricklepants decided to be a stop-motion animated hedgehog in a dark fantasy musical film feature.

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While there were no hats, this experience immediately failed to be nearly as satisfying as it first seemed, and was deemed a terrible idea quickly. Stop-motion animated hedgehogs in a dark fantasy musical film features don’t eat.

Princess Pricklepants didn’t want to be a stop-motion animated hedgehog any more.

And so she decided to be a clothing model.

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She quickly realized that this was not her calling.  If hats were bad, clothes were much, much worse and not at all suited to a hedgehog, princess or otherwise.

Princess Pricklepants didn’t want to be a clothing model any more.

Her Highness realized that none of these were suited for a hedgehog princess, and that being a hedgehog princess was not nearly as bad as it first had seemed.

So she went back to studying etiquette again since studying etiquette was not nearly as bad as being a squirrel, a viking, a pirate, a stop-motion animated hedgehog in a dark fantasy musical film feature, or a clothing model.

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After all, there was tea and cookies.

 

Princess Pricklepants, Winning Hearts and Minds


Dear readers, our introduction will be brief for this, our latest blog post.

We are required to mention the existence of superb, compelling t-shirts that you clearly want:

 

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Feel their powerful draw, can you resist?

With that complete, we begin our story with a picture with words under it.

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Princess Pricklepants and friends were sitting in a new meeting about Her Highness’ presidential campaign.  They were gaining some supporters, but humans had a strange tendency to support one of the human candidates, despite her clearly being an ideal presidential candidate.

“Item one,” said Jane, “so far we haven’t sold any shirts.”

“The shirts are so delightful, this is a real puzzle,” said Her Highness.

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“I feel like I’m living in a shameless marketing ploy,” said Boris.

“Deal, Mr. Existential. Anyway, they’ve only been up for a day, maybe we need to wait,” said Jane.

“Okay, so what can we do to win more voters,” Princess asked?

“I know what to do,” said Boris, “forget the humans, they’re fickle.  We need woodland creature support.”

Jane protested, “What about farm animals?  The cow vote is critical.”

“Cows never vote,” said Boris, “they’re sheep.”

While the others were bickering, Princess wandered off to go on Twitter, which was where presidents were made these days.  It seemed like just the sort of place for calm, mature discussions of political matters.

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She decided to check in with the squirrels there, since squirrels were a key part of the small furry mammal base she wanted to win over.  She also had read a book about squirrels that she found deeply delightful for some reason.

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In the Twitterverse, she found a politically engaged squirrel, and was delighted…

Wisconsin’s primaries were winding up, and she was excited to see the news about her support from squirrels there.  She didn’t want to hurt any squirrels feelings, so she apologized politely while sharing the news of her support.

The count was ongoing…

Happily, the final count put hedgehogs clearly in the lead:

For some reason there was skepticism.

Her Highness politely pointed to science to help the misguided:

Sadly a minority of squirrel extremists read some misinformation on the internet and became very upset.

But truth reigned supreme.

Sadly, it was clear that some squirrels were reading fringe conspiracy theory web sites…

While most squirrels supported Her Highness, these particular squirrels were less enthusiastic.  And definitely not polite.

Things got even more disappointing…

Disappointing, and clearly rooted in a handful of species-ists.

She realized that she had to reach out to squirrels with kindness and politeness to try to build bridges and promote inter-species understanding.

This worked out, squirrel polls showed even better numbers, so it was time to reach out to other woodland creatures.

With knowledge that support from squirrels, mice, and opossums was growing, she thought about the next core demographics for support – bunnies, guinea pigs, and chinchillas, but was a little tired.  She went back to the living room.  Jane and Boris were still arguing about cows voting. She got some tea, and went to bed.

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She was really not looking forward to the New York and California primaries…

Princess Pricklepants, Magnificent Mender of Monkey Manners


Dear reader, hopefully you were led here from this post’s immediate antecedent. Due to technical reasons far too risky to explain, we shall now only refer to that previous post as The Post That Must Not Be Named.  Still, there’s happy news – those previous complications, digressions, and Dark Arts can now be left behind (provided they are never discussed, explained, or named).

And so we begin with our first picture with words under it.

DSC_0935Princess Pricklepants was profoundly pleased.  After a complicated series of events and delays (which must not be discussed, explained, or named), she was finally able to fulfill her supreme destiny in teaching a monkey all the things a monkey should know – politeness, manners, and grace at a tea party (well, there was also dancing, singing, and proper diction, but those were a digression, and at this point Her Highness had become very suspicious of digressions). The tea was set out, there were some nice snacks, and she had her artful friend Artemisia as a model manners  assistant. There was even a fancy chair for the monkey. Things were going swimmingly.

Now all she had to do was teach the monkey.  She’d been so busy with email and avoiding meetings that she’d overlooked making a lesson plan. She decided to wing it as delightfully as possible.

“Now Monkey, um, let’s see.  To be polite, one should use the term ‘one’ instead of ‘you’, smile nicely (as I and Artemisia always do), and also… Hmm…”  She thought about having Monkey walk with a book balanced on the head to teach grace and poise, but that really didn’t seem like the right thing to do around cups of tea.  Enunciation lessons would be frustrating since Monkey didn’t speak English like a normal hedgehog, bear, or cow. At a loss, she decided to google something polite to do at tea parties.

DSC_0928Puzzlingly, when she looked up ‘Tea Party’ on google, the results were utterly bizarre and distressingly impolite.  Google was clearly confused, it seemed to be looking into some strange and rather grumpy alternate reality she was pleased to be no part of.

With no help from the internet, she bravely forged ahead. She began a lesson showing Monkey how to make a plate of treats with impeccable manners. Surely this would be a simple and foolproof lesson.

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She illustrated daintily placing a treat on a plate with grace and poise. Next came Monkey’s turn.

DSC_0948Unfortunately there was a mishap. But in every mishap, there’s an opportunity to be polite and helpful. “Oh dear, Monkey, are you okay? Let me help you back up.” She politely helped Monkey back to the seat. Monkey got back on the seat but at this point, things took a turn towards the complicated, as reality cruelly conspired against etiquette lessons.

DSC_0964Monkey sat upon the chair, but in a sense that was not so much “upon” as “upon, but in the entirely wrong way.” Monkey sat in a manner sadly lacking in refinement and sophistication. Princess politely looked away to give Monkey the chance to correct the posture problems.

In retrospect, looking aside was a poor choice. While looking anywhere but at the monkey, she noticed the wonderful beckoning dark space under the table. The beautiful, hypnotic, irresistible dark space. The allure was strong, so she decided to gracefully climb under the table.

DSC_0970She felt wonderfully sublime exploring this mysterious and fascinating new space, but the monkey posture problem remained. She had to think of a solution. She thought, and realized the solution. It was incredibly simple and elegant. “Monkey, perhaps you’d like to look under the table? It’s so lovely to crawl around there, and it’s so polite and refined,” she helpfully suggested.

DSC_0977It a was a perfect solution. The posture problems were in the past. There was a slight down side, though. The monkey’s trip under the table left Artemisia inexplicably distressed. Princess Pricklepants felt great concern. She tried to comfort her artful model friend.

DSC_0991Some aspects of this may have comforted her friend (though the quill stabbing aspect was much too uncomfortable to be very comforting), but it had an unfortunate complicating effect. Monkey noticed that comforting Artemisia looked incredibly fun and decided to try it too.

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Unfortunately, despite the monkey’s best efforts at being comforting, the end result was somehow not comforting at all, but distressing.

At this point Artemisia needed additional comforting due to these attempts at comforting. Princess politely jumped in great enthusiasm to offer aid and comfort. The outcome was truly memorable, which is the hallmark of a good party, so it worked out really well.

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There was one tiny issue. She may have jumped in a little too enthusiastically, since bits of party ended up strewn across the floor. Still, there was a happy side, since some cookies had fallen to the floor. With the floor cookies she could both practice and illustrate her manners at not eating off the ground (challenge level: extreme), and there was added bonus – she could say “excuse me” for the minor faux pas.

While the incident had many wonderfully polite and delightful aspects for Her Highness, there was one very, very unfortunate side effect. In clambering across the table, she spotted something with an allure even greater than the magnificent sub-table space. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted the wonderful, enticing, tantalizing Gap Under The Sofa (so delightful it had to be capitalized). An irresistible space with an allure so tempting that there was only one possible polite pursuit.

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Clambering under the couch was so fantastically, irresistibly polite that Monkey, as a new student of politeness, joined in happily. This pleased Her Highness to no end. These manners lessons were going so well!

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With Her Highness sniffing under the sofa in the most refined and delightful way she could manage, and with Monkey following suit, her heart swelled. Her charge in charm training was clearly getting the knack of politeness, grace, and delightful things! Monkey Manners Mission Accomplished!

And with that happy ending, she was as delighted as could be. Clearly Monkey had seen that manners are fun and would now behave like a proper monkey. With a bit of work at balancing books on heads, a bit of refinement of diction, and perhaps some ballroom dancing lessons, things would be peachy. Now she just had to get those chickens in shape.

Coming soon in our next episode:  Will the monkey manners be maintained?  Will the chickens learn civility? What happened to the skunk?  Will the story shift in some other unrelated direction pretending none of this ever happened?  Will the author lighten up on the adjective extravagance? Will the crocodiles (or is it alligators?) return? These and other questions may or may not be answered in Princess Pricklepants and the Chicken Charm School (working title – subject to change).

 

Princess Pricklepants and the Mystery of Monkey Manners


(previously)

Dear reader,

Please be advised that the following story contains graphic self-referentiality. Younger readers and those sensitive to chronic self-reference exposure might experience dizziness, confusion, and mild irritation when reading this post. Precautionary meta-measures should be taken, though were we to mention them, this in itself could trigger acute self-referentialititis in those afflicted.

Since this is a longer post somewhat past the bounds of prudence and justice in hedgehog-blog related literature, we’ll keep this preamble brief except for this one item of note: Someone came to this blog from a search for “how can make the models of cow & duck from waste materials.” We feel like someone who suddenly found a mysterious doorway in their home that they’d never noticed before. This opens new dimensions.

And now, our first picture with words under it.

PP and Boris“Good morning, Boris.”

“Good morning, Your Highness. I notice that we’re in a standard two character intro.  Lovely!  Things are looking nicely normal for the literary form. I assume we’ll be briefly describing an important detail of the plot’s conflict to the audience mixed with a bit of light banter to set the mood?”

“Not sure what you mean about standard intros, but I was just having some tea and sitting here working out my plan for Monkey.”

“Ah, yes, Monkey. Have you read my latest blog post on Monkey?”

“You have a blog?”

“How could you not know this?  I email links to it every time I post something… It’s a handy way for me to explain my displeasure at certain cows and other figures in a delightfully indirect way. I just skip sending links to the annoying… Uh… So, yes, eh, I have a boring blog.  You shouldn’t read it. Very dull.”

“Ah.”

“So, the monkey business?”

“Yes, I have a perfectly pleasant plan to promote politeness and philanthropy in our primate pal.”

“Interestingly, I wrote on my blog about alliteration recently…  Anyway, you’re going to send Monkey to a zoo?”

“No. I’ve realized the error of my ways. The key is the tea. That’s what I always say now. So we’ll have a lovely and tasteful tea party. Monkey will be pleased, delighted, and educated.”

“Do those three words usually go together?”

“Yes. Now you too are pleased, delighted, and educated.”

“You know, I suddenly have a new blog post to work on. Good day.”

PP and Jane

Jane entered in a way no adjectives could properly describe, so no description was offered. “So, the meeting. You ready? I’ve got a few new items. I found an amazing way to make models of ducks and cows from scrap paper! Oh, also it turns out the bear has a blog where he talks about us and how we’ve annoyed him. One of the chickens forwarded me a link.”

“Oh, maybe we could not have the meeting today? I have plans. Tea party plans with the monkey. It will be luminous.”

“So you’re really skipping an important meeting where you can contribute valuable time and resources to go have a tea party with a monkey?”

“It’s to teach Monkey manners.”

“I thought we were going to get that monkey a job. We’ll be going over this in the meeting we all really should be attending.”

“Would you mind holding on just a moment? I need to send a quick email.”

Checking Email

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: A Missive on Manners in Meetings

I have some incredibly important business to attend to teaching a monkey proper primate etiquette, but to do so would require skipping a meeting. Is it polite to skip meetings if it’s for the purpose of furthering a great and noble cause?
-PP

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: A Missive on Manners in Meetings

Dear Somewhat Impolite Nickname,
Pursuing the promotion of proper politeness is a perennially perfect and proper plan. Perhaps you could try telling the meeting organizer you’re busy and see if they can reschedule.
-Princess Pricklepants

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: A Missive on Manners in Meetings

What if they don’t agree?
-PP

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: A Missive on Manners in Meetings

Dear Still Inexplicably Using That Somewhat Impolite Nickname,
Mention that they skipped the meeting yesterday. Note that there’s clearly some flexibility in scheduling.
-Princess Pricklepants

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: A Missive on Manners in Meetings

Oh, that’s a great idea. But how did you know about the rescheduling? Oh, wait, you must read my blog…
-Princess Pricklepants

“Say, Jane, could we reschedule the meeting?”

“I really want to have a word with everyone about that bear and his blog.  He said I was a passive-aggresive control-freak!  You should hear what he said about alliteration!”

“Couldn’t you just talk to him?”

“That’s a kooky idea. We’ll talk about it in the meeting.”

“Remember how you rescheduled the meeting yesterday?”

“Yes, it’s been so long since we’ve had a meeting. I really miss our meetings.”

“Perhaps you could write a note about impolite blogging for the bear and leave it on the refrigerator? Then we could discuss leaving notes in the meeting tomorrow.”

“Fine. I’ll leave a note for the bear. I guess. But someone else might be seeing her own note about meeting rescheduling… And in the next meeting we’ll be discussing the importance of attendance.”

Dear reader,

An astute reader might have noticed that we’re already remarkably far into this story with a withering sea of dialog, but no tea parties, few photos, and barely any story per se. Yet adorable photos of hedgehogs participating in tea parties with monkeys are really the main purpose of this blog post. “Why?” You are probably asking, “Why no hedgehog monkey tea parties? Why all this dialog and email business? Why this rambling authorial intrusion?” The answer is perplexing to us all, I’m afraid, even to the narrator. Sorry. We’ve really been trying to make things go that way, but instead here we are not presenting you with hedgehog-monkey-tea, and are even talking about not doing that very thing, adding to the sense that this digression is as distressing as it is inexplicable, like a metaphor without a comparison. Apologies. We really ought to do something about that.

-Author

To: sirsandwich@princesspricklepants.com 
From: excelsior@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: A Dramatic Failure

Dear Author,
I know you don’t read my blog. I check. You really should. You’re a terrible writer tormenting me with an endless litany of literary failures, non-existent dramatic structure, meandering prose, and peculiar diction. I have so much advice for you. Please subscribe to my blog. Regarding your current meandering malaise of muddled mystification, hideous whimsy, mutilated story progression, and crimes against literature I also have some advice. Instead of reading your email you might want to just write the story. Or at least plug some pictures in with our charming bear protagonist offering helpful advice and commentary to his hapless animal friends.
-Boris Maximus
“Excelsior!”

To: excelsior@princesspricklepants.com 
From: sirsandwich@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: A Dramatic Failure

Dear Bear,
Thanks so much for contacting us with your criticism. Negative feedback can be a valuable part of the development of a creative work, but sadly, we are busy writing a lovely story about a hedgehog having a tea party with a monkey and currently cannot accept your criticism. We also regret to inform you that we have no plans to process criticism anytime in the near or distant future, including complaints about not accepting criticism, complaints about spending time writing email about not accepting criticism when we should be writing other things, criticisms of literary structure, complaints about typos or or speling errors in response emails, or any other from of complaint, critique, denunciation, etc. For further details, please see:
http://the-toast.net/2014/09/19/no-criticism-thanks/
If you’re concerned about us effectively recycling someone else’s material, that too is a form of criticism which again falls under the category of things we are currently not accepting.
Kindest Regards,
Sir Sandwich
P.S. Please feel free to review this email whenever the thought of contacting us with criticism arises.

Soon another email arrived, but the Author had stopped checking email, since he was busy reading some articles found after googling procrastination, thinking about whether there actually was some way to construct a metaphor without a comparison (since that would be really cool), and trying to think of a way to work the phrase “bear umbrage” into the story somehow.

Things got complicated, and it didn’t seem like there was any hope the story could progress. How could a denouement be reached? With far more than a thousand words already spilled in a format with an arbitrarily self-imposed thousand word limit, a story that was in revolt against its own plot, and levels of self-reference that seemed like they’d suck everything into a swirling vortex of recursion the impasse seemed intractable.  Fortunately Her Highness had an idea.

“Perhaps you could just call this complete, then start a new story. In the new one, we just need to find the monkey, set up a nice tea service with a few treats, some tasteful decorations, and an environment full of sweetness and light. With that, things will naturally unfold just as they should, and all will be well in the world.”

So, it is your Destiny that you must click here to continue to Princess Pricklepants, Magnificent Mender of Monkey Manners (we were going to title it, “Princess Pricklepants and the Quest for Monkey Manners – A New Beginning,” but certain editors protested) in which there are many photos, monkey manners may be modified, and tea is served.

Princess Pricklepants’ Somewhat Distracted Guide to Manners, Monkeys, Etc.


Previously: Princess Pricklepants and the Monkey Business

Dear Reader(s),

Something odd happened recently – a story from our humble blog wound up briefly on the front page of a tech news site (news.ycombinator.com) – naturally it was Princess Pricklepants, Startup Founder Extraordinaire. So we got a lot of visits for a bit and were for a very brief moment slightly more famous (9,000 hits in a day), though things are largely back to normal now.

For perfectly good (though difficult to explain) reasons relating to that, Her Highness now has a LinkedIn profile, so if you’d like to add a Noble Hedgehog Adventurer/Farmer/Model/Space Traveler/Acupuncturist to your professional network, feel free:

https://linkedin.com/in/penelope-pricklepants-98198010a

There are a lot of words in this, our latest post (more than two thousand five hundred – sorry for the wordiness), so we’ll keep this preamble succinct, pithy, and free of superfluities, and will not drone on in a long run-on sentence about how brief, concise, and terse our intro. is, but rather will press on into the body of our story with no delays, distractions, or pointless diversions. And so we begin with our first picture with words under it.

The Quiet Place

Princess Pricklepants was rather irked by The Monkey Situation. She decided to be forthright, proactive, and assertive in dealing with the problem. She went off to be alone in her room to hide under a blanket and reflect on how best to be forthright, proactive, and assertive. In her room, she started writing a note to place on the refrigerator:

Dear Monkey,

Please do not leave the refrigerator door open. Please also be sure to help clean the dishes. While doing so, please do not throw any more dishes. Once again, Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina. In addition, please stop harassing the alligators.

That font was all wrong, so she tried out different fonts for a while, bumped the font size and adjusted margins, and then went to Wikipedia to check on something. After a brief voyage through the Wikipedia spiral of distraction, she found herself logged onto the PrincessPricklepantsCentral Forum.

PrincessPricklepantsCentral Forums -> Community board

Her Highness – Nov. 22 2015 11:00 AM
DSC_0012

Senior Member

She of the tea

Hello, did anyone think of a job for Monkey?
Boris – Nov. 22 2015 11:01 AM
Clipjungle4new

Senior Member

“fourth wall demolitionist”

No. We’re all just avoiding the obnoxious food-stealing monkey.

Hey, you know why the monkey liked the banana? It had appeal.

Jane – Nov. 22 2015 11:03 AM
captainquillbeard

Admin

the accountant

Some of us are also avoiding the obnoxious food-stealing bear.

You know what you call bears with no ears? B.

Boris – Nov. 22 2015 11:05 AM
Clipjungle4new

Senior Member

“fourth wall demolitionist”

Sounds like someone is a mad cow, maybe it’s time for your check-up?

On a more important note, is this plot ever going to go anywhere? It’s like the writer’s just shamelessly making it all up as they go along…

What do you get when you cross a bear and an elephant? A revocation of your research grant and a stern rebuke from the ethics committee.

Her Highness – Nov. 22 2015 11:10 AM
DSC_0012

Senior Member

She of the tea

So everyone, shall we have a meeting to go over Monkey employment then? These forums seem too… frivolous.
Jane – Nov. 22 2015 11:23 AM
captainquillbeard

Admin

the accountant

It’s Sunday. Maybe we should hold off until tomorrow, then we’ll be able to call around to see if anyone will hire Monkey.

Also, agreed, Boris’ jokes are becoming unbearable.

 

She logged off the forums and tried to catch up on email. Being a hedgehog, her eyesight was poor. Happily, when she had difficulties reading things she went by smell which worked remarkably well (as far as she could tell).

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: [redacted]
Subject: Pinterest Advice

Dear Princess Pricklepants, I try to be a polite, refined, well-mannered person, so naturally I have been throwing tea parties. I’ve been getting great ideas from Pinterest. Recently my husband, Ned, has been joining us at the parties, which is nice except that he eats the kale and quinoa salad with his fingers, and drinks his hot tea in a mason jar. I’ve told him that mason jars are not for tea, but are for lemonade (or for candle-making, creating a sewing kit, toy storage, crafting, holding tortilla chips, salad, cocoa mix, potpourri, etc.). How do I convince him to be more genteel and refined in the ways of proper manners at tea?

– Pinterest Paige

No Touching

Touching non-finger-food with hands and touching all the cookies – troubling manners.

To: [redacted]
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: Pinterest Advice

Dear Penless Page, thanks for writing. Table manners are oh so very important, and a domain in which I have an extensive background. Let him know that the appropriate way to eat is to sniff out food, then bring one’s snout to the food dish, grab the food with one’s mouth, or perhaps slurp it in a bit with one’s tongue (provided it’s long enough), then crunch away. That is, until the monkey shows up, grabs the food with his hands, then throws it, and the food spills everywhere, leaving you very confused, while your attempts to teach manners and geography are completely ignored. Gently suggest to your husband that using his hands is being like that monkey, and nobody would want to be like that monkey. Don’t be that monkey.

-PPP

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: [redacted]
Subject: Refrigerator Lurking

Dear Princess, my kids and my husband will wander into the kitchen, go straight to the refrigerator, and then just stand there with the door open staring into the void. It drives me crazy – it wastes electricity, risks food going bad, and it’s just plain frustrating. What can I do to help others to break free from their former lives as fridge dwellers?

– Wishing They’d Cool It With The Refrigerator

Fridge Time II

Loitering with the refrigerator door open – uncouth

To: [redacted]
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: Refrigerator Lurking

Dear Wishing You Were As Cool As a Refrigerator,

When a person, beloved pet, or monkey spends a long time lingering in the refrigerator, this might be because they have already eaten all of your food and are just wishing more would appear. Or perhaps they just love the rich and interesting smells that refrigerators emanate (such a fascinating bouquet). But if you ask politely for them to stop, and they act like a tricky monkey, then I’d recommend you write a note and place it on the refrigerator. Be sure to use a nice font. Make sure the note is polite, thoughtful, and kind with a clear helpful lesson on manners (and perhaps geography), so it can ultimately lead to an outcome somewhat like the plot of My Fair Lady, with singing, dancing, and a somewhat ambiguous ending.

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: [redacted]
Subject: A Crumby Old Bed

Dear Princess Pricklepants,

My husband Vern is a good man, but he brings toast, cookies, crackers, and even cups of tea into the bed all the time while sitting to read. He creates terrible messes! What’s a polite way to tell him to stop bringing food to bed?

– Neat Freak

Eating In Bed

Eating and drinking in bed – a politeness apocalypse

To: [redacted]
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com
Subject: Re: A Crumby Old Bed

Dear Nut Freak,

Too often one may find oneself in the situation of a person or monkey climbing on one’s bed, eating bananas and leaving the peels all over, spilling drinks, jumping on the bed, and even throwing pillows. To deal with this, hold a household meeting to discuss a plan to deal with the bed crumbs. Then have a followup meeting to go over the plan’s implementation details, followed by a series of pre-planning meetings for each item, and ideally some off-site training. At some point the amount time used by all the meetings and preparation will be so great that there will be no more time for bed eating/hopping/sleeping/etc., and the problem will be solved. Be sure to follow Robert’s Rules of Order.

-HRH PPP

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: [redacted]
Subject: Teenager Acting Out

Dear Princess,

I have a lovely 17-year-old step-daughter. Recently she has developed a lot of anger issues and has loud, tantrum-like outbursts where she curses out her father and me, and says very hurtful things. She even called me a witch! What can I do to bring her in line?

– Frustrated Mom

Witch Trial

Witch accusations – ten points from Slytherin

To: [redacted]
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: Teenager Acting Out

Dear Frustrating Mom,

I think you may have written in before, when I was interrupted due to some dinosaur-related business complexities. Apologies if that’s so. Witch accusations are no laughing matter, and not to be taken lightly. They must be followed up by a proper trial. Our favorite method for testing whether someone is a witch is to build a large set of scales and weigh the accused to see if they weigh more than a duck. If they weigh less than a duck, then they’re a witch.

If you find they are a witch, ask them which house they were sorted into to, ask if they’ve met Hermione, and see if you can help get a teacher to reward their house points. Also please let me know (unless they’re in Slytherin). I’ve been looking for the secret passage to Diagon Alley for a very long time with no luck yet. I love the Harry Potter documentaries, and really would love to visit the wizarding world.

-Her Royal Highness PPP Grand Duchess of Tiggy-Winkle, Defender of Hufflepuff, etc.

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: [redacted]
Subject: Miniatures Photography Woes

Dear Princess,

My husband is a bit eccentric. Or, well honestly, really eccentric. He is a photographer who creates little sets with miniatures and props for his photos (he even puts our pet in the photos sometimes). It’s a hobby and seems to make him happy, I suppose, though it’d be nice if he cleaned up his mess more. Sometimes our nieces and nephews come over to visit and treat his photography equipment like toys, which bothers him. How do I get him to put his equipment away before people come over?

– Really Not Toys

Miniatures

Playing with other people’s toys without asking – very impolite

To: [redacted]
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: Miniatures Photography Woes

Dear In Reality Toys,

That sounds like a really wonderful hobby. We have a doll house also, and enjoy putting our toy cows and animals in little scenes, though recently we’ve taken on a monkey in residence who has been ruining our setups, creating general chaos, and leaving banana peels in the tiny, carefully set up doll rooms. It smells like you need to get a lot more toys for your husband’s doll house so that if there are visitors they can play too.

-PPP

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
From: [redacted]
Subject: Advice re: Uptight Cow

Dear Princess,

Sometimes at work (I work as a programmer writing robot controller software and internet forum software) I like to read Facebook or hit Pinterest or read Cute Overload. My overbearing cow-orker Jane has become a total control-freak, insisting I focus on my work and nothing else. How can I tell her to loosen up a bit?

– Bessie

18658501738_ce897ffcfa_k

Surfing the net – politeness will vary

To: [redacted]
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com 
Subject: Re: Advice re: ... Cow friend

Dear Bessie,

We’ll put this on the agenda for the next meeting. I’m fairly sure we just need to get an outsider from the big city to come in and teach us about modern music and dancing to loosen things up and revitalize the spirit of the repressed townspeople, but this will need discussion.

-PP

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com
From: [redacted]
Subject: Need Advice About An Accursed Monkey

Dear Princess Pricklepants,

Due to tangled reasons involving a turgid plot too difficult to describe for both emotional reasons and time limits, I’ve wound up with a horrid monkey living in my home. It eats all the food. It is a conniving, cruel taker of snacks. With the monkey menace so serious, I feel that it would be courteous to wage guerilla warfare against the monkey. I was thinking that we could let the Universe decide whether the monkey should stay here by loading the monkey into our catapult and flinging the monkey far, far away. Please tell me that this is the polite thing to do.

-Primate Adversary

Catapult

Flinging monkeys with catapults indoors – clearly not polite

To: [redacted]
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com
Subject: Re: Need Advice About A... Monkey

Dear Boris,

It smells like it’s not so much manners you’re worried about here, but your food. Instead of trying to throw the monkey out of your world, help Monkey to improve as a monkey – be the changed monkey you want to see in the world.

Regarding the catapult, it’s never polite to fling monkeys with catapults inside. If you take the catapult outside its polite to fling jewel encrusted antiques, rare glasswork, a cat, or other items that would be fun to watch fly, but not monkeys. Perhaps you could take Monkey on a trip to a farm where Monkey could live happily?

-HRH PPP

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com
From: [redacted]
Subject: Re: Need Advice About An Accursed Monkey (don't edit my subject either)

Dear Princess Pricklepants,

I believe we’ve established that deliveries are Jane’s job. It’s polite to lock Monkey in a cage, right? It feels very polite to me.

I would mention my concerns about the lack of plot development with this episode, it’s like this whole post is just a pernicious plan by a particularly peculiar person to post pictures of their pet posed with pleasant pint-sized props and pen pleasantries rather than pursue a proper plot.

At this point I have to say that I truly feel that my rights are being violated by being used in this way, and plan to contact Amnesty International’s fictional bear’s rights program. Regardless, I know you will just ignore it. How do you always manage to ignore these pressing literary matters?

-Primate Adversary

Caged

Caging monkeys – probably poor manners.

To: [redacted]
From: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com
Subject: Re: Need Advice About A Monkey, Now With Improved Subject

Dear Boris,

I am fairly sure it is not polite to put monkeys in cages. I checked Haley’s 2007 etiquette guide, but it didn’t say anything one way or the other.

On an unrelated note, I have happy news. I’ve discovered something that Monkey is very good at. Monkey is a skilled and talented illustrator of poor manners. I think we should give him a job as a politeness model for every conceivable item in the “do not do”column.

-HRH PPP

To: theprincess@princesspricklepants.com
From: [redacted]
Subject: Re: Need Advice About A Banana-stealing Monster

It seems fitting that Monkey’s purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

– Boris

In our next episode, will we just forget the monkey and finally get to Princess Pricklepants and the Live Action Role Playing Game? Will we just wander and digress pointlessly some more? Will we stick with the monkey so we can do Princess Pricklepants and the Code Monkey? Will an homage to Curious George appear starring Her Highness as the Hedgehog Princess in the Yellow Hat? Tune in eventually when we finally get to publishing the next episode to find out what happens next. With the Holidays things will be spotty.

Princess Pricklepants and the Monkey Business


Hello again, dear readers,

In the news, we’ve got two items for you. 

First, you won’t ever have to worry about fame going to our head.  We made the mistake of looking at Alexa, a site that shows the relative popularity of web sites.  Our humble blog is now even humbler after seeing that we’re the 5,568,903th most popular blog on the Interwebs. But that means you, special reader, can show how much cooler you are to your friends by referencing this very blog which they definitely will never have heard of.

Second, we didn’t have another item, but felt badly about only having one.

Third, with the holidays looming, we might be a bit spotty on posts.

Fourth, we really had a second item, but got to it third.  Sorry for the confusion.

Fifth, Her Highness has been in a bit of a poetic phase recently.  Behold:

haiku2

haiku

And now, we begin our tale with our first photo with words under it (except the photos above, which clearly don’t count.)

DSC_0118

Her Highness endured the trip back from the island with some discomfort, but they made it back home. There were some problems finding a new home for the chickens and monkey.  Her farmer friends on hedgehogfarmercentral.com already had too many chickens and monkeys, so they had to stay at her place until arrangements could be made.

mornings

As a result of the new guests, Her Highness was having a very trying morning. So trying indeed, that these were the times that try a hedgehog’s soul. Things had been oddly unpleasant since the return from their great adventure. Chicken noise, chicken mess, and other chicken problems were piling up around her home.

But the chickens were the lesser concern. The greater was the monkey business. At first the monkey had seemed nice enough, but for some reason the monkey refused to speak. It just said “ooh ooh, aah aah” and then jumped around. Sometimes it threw things that definitely never, ever should be thrown, like pillows. It was a troublingly monkey.

monkey business

While Jane wasn’t pleased by the chicken who’d decided to use her head as a nest, the monkey put googly eyes on Her Highness’s hindquarters. So distressing! So very discourteous! So incredibly impolite!

But this was a relatively minor kerfuffle when compared to The Starbucks Incident…

DSC_0196

Her Highness wasn’t sure how this had happened.  One moment the monkey was gesticulating, oohing, and aahing along, pointing at the gargantuan Starbucks cup prop that Boris had bought on a whim from eBay.  The next thing she knew, she was in a very undignified and distressing position.

Regardless, it was definitely the last straw. Princess Pricklepants decided it was time to take the monkey on as a project. The monkey must become a genteel monkey, educated in the ways of politeness, manners, geography, figurative language, and related things that would prevent another Starbucks Incident.  It would be rather like My Fair Lady, except My Fair Monkey. Soon the monkey would be singing lovely songs about dancing all night, and all would be nice and proper.

travel plans

She worked out a lesson plan on hedgehoglessonplancentral.com, set up a classroom in the kitchen, and began her lesson in politeness. “Now, monkey, after you’ve eaten your banana, where does the peel go?” “Oooh ooh, ah ah.” The lesson quickly became very trying due to the language barrier.

She called Boris the bear into the kitchen.

“Boris, this monkey isn’t speaking words I understand.  I think this may be a Canadian monkey. Perhaps you can translate?”

The monkey picked up a sandwich and said “Ooh ooh, ah ah.”

Boris said, “No, that’s not Canadian.  Perhaps ‘ooh ooh, ah ah’ means sandwich?”

“The monkey always says that.  Maybe the monkey’s always talking about sandwiches?”

The monkey threw the sandwich.

She addressed the monkey, “No, monkey, throwing things is definitely not polite. Now, what is the capital of Argentina?”

“Ooh ooh, ah ah”

“No, it’s Buenos Aires. I showed you on the map. I think that the monkey’s not saying ‘sandwich,’ it’s just speaking some strange language. I think there’s a figurative language barrier. Perhaps it’s speaking Cockney?”

The monkey left. It didn’t say goodbye or engage in any polite formalities. This was not like My Fair Monkey at all.

She sighed. This was a problem. It’s difficult to educate a monkey in manners when you can’t speak with it. She asked herself, “What is the ideal way to solve any problem?”

She called a meeting.

meeting

Jane: Item one, naming the monkey. What should we call it?

Boris: Monkey.

Jane: Yes, but what should we name it?

Boris: Monkey.

(After a much longer conversation than is polite to relate, it was decided to name the monkey “Monkey.”)

Jane (cow accountant): Item two. Snacks. We’re totally out of bananas.

Boris (bear): It’s the monkey. The monkey is a banana thief! A cruel taker of snacks.

Jane: Did the monkey take the three pies that were out this morning? Remember a few minutes ago when we had two dozen donuts? I count eight now.

Boris: This meeting is about the monkey.

Princess: The monkey is also very impolite. We should discuss monkey manners.

Boris: As a bear’s-rights snacktivist, I find eating my food much more serious.

Jane: Well, all the items are about monkey business. I suppose we can we just talk about the monkey business, even if it does ruin the meeting format.

Princess: So what is the appropriate thing to do in these circumstances?

Boris: I move that we send Monkey back to the island. Jane, you can take the monkey in the boat. We’ll wait here.

Jane: Boris, you are insufferable.

Boris. Label me all you like. I don’t believe in labels. I’ve recently stopped believing in pronouns or adjectives as well. Prepositions are also out.

Jane: Moving on… I just looked up ‘monkey business’ on the internet. Do you know how many jobs can be replaced with trained monkeys? I had no idea. We should get this monkey a job.

Princess: Monkey, what kind of job would you like to do?

Monkey: Ooh ooh, ah ah.

Boris: It seems to be saying it wants to make sandwiches. Does some kind of sandwich-making job exist?

Princess: Is there a job where they pay you to throw things and be impolite? Monkey is very good at that.

Christine (cow safety officer): I don’t think we want to encourage Monkey throwing anything. Seriously.

With much more discussion that went on longer than is decorous or seemly to relate, and in a manner that was as rambling, overlapping, and digressive as only meetings can be, they determined that they should find the monkey some kind of job, the exact details of which were only loosely agreed upon (no throwing, no making sandwiches, no computer programming, and acupuncture was right out. Songwriting seemed like a promising idea, though.)

With that decision complete (and us passing 1000 words), it felt like a full day. Princess Pricklepants retired to her happy place to read a book.

bedtime

Will the monkey find gainful employment? Will chicken troubles appear? Will peculiar and not very relevant photos be forced in? Will chicken crossing road jokes appear? Is a chicken crossing the road poultry in motion? Will they think to ask the strangely-ignored chickens to translate the monkey’s mysterious language? Will they do anything with the Gem of Destiny? Will a tea party involving monkey manners lessons happen? All these and other questions may be answered when the next blog post appears.

Next: Princess Pricklepants’ Somewhat Distracted Guide to Manners, Monkeys, Etc.