Princess Pricklepants and Hedgehog Art Through the Ages


Dear Reader,

Since Her Highness has taken an interest in education, we’ve found a number of works of Hedgehog Art through the ages to share to aid the much neglected field of Hedgehog art education.  There is no story in this post per se, other than the magnificent story of hedgehog art, a story well worth telling.

We begin with this less well known Botticelli work, Birth of a Hedgehog. A beautiful and sublime work of art, and a true milestone in Renaissance Hedgehog art:

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Next we have another Renaissance hedgehog art history milestone by Michelangelo. Sadly, the Vatican rejected Michelangelo’s first hedgehog-based design for the Sistine Chapel:
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Grant Wood’s American Hegehog Gothic is less well known than his more popular painting, but this remarkable piece is truly iconic in hedgehog art and culture:

american_gothic

Leutze’s Hedgehog Crossing the Delaware is a high point of 1850s art – stirring imagery, truly remarkable artistic composition:

Delaware

When Hedgehog With a Pearl Earring went to auction in 1947, it was widely considered by experts as a forgery of Vermeer done by the notorious Van Meegeren. Thanks to painstaking research by Princess Pricklepants, the provenance of this piece has been authoritatively traced back to Vermeer, and it’s now a favorite piece in Her Highness’ collection. A true Dutch master-work:

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Magritte’s Le Fils de l’Herrison is difficult to explain, but here it is:

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Edward Hopper’s Nighthogs was recently discovered in museum archives of the Art Institute of Chicago among works willed by Hopper to the museum that were lost in storage vaults. It’s very exciting to see this remarkable discovery come to light.

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Norman Rockwell’s love of hedgehogs is not well known. He made this painting as a cover for the Saturday Evening Post in 1958. At the time, featuring an African on the cover in the diner was a brave move by Mr. Rockwell, but unfortunately the theme was too controversial and was ultimately not accepted until it was reworked.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of various high points of hedgehog art and hope you may have learned something as well.  There are many other works that we will likely share on Facebook and Twitter over time, and you can find awesome shirts here:

http://urchinwear.net/product-category/shirts/hedgehog-art/

Now there is a book available here: https://www.createspace.com/6456156

and also available on amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Hedgehog-Through-Ages-Steven-Bach/dp/1539641880/

Stay tuned for our next episode: Princess Pricklepants and the Mystery of Monkey Voters (working title)

Next: Princess Pricklepants and More Hedgehog Art Through the Ages

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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 Perils of Pirate Plunder: Part I – The Great Beginning


Previously: Princess Pricklepants and the Dinosaur Denouement

Dear reader,

Happily, and/or sadly, nobody has sent us any correspondence, so we have no reader responses to offer. We did find one search that led someone here for “how to have manners like a princess.” I’m sure we were very helpful. Someone also came here looking for “pleasantries synonym.” I assume they found what they were looking for.

This will be a brief prologue, since we have work to do here, thus we now offer our first picture with words under it:

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Princess Pricklepants was generally enjoying a regal life of leisure with her friends. They caught up on hedgehog documentaries, tried out surfing on a vacation…

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…and hung out with their old friend Moonflower the sheep from back in the farm days. One of the robots, Redbot, had moved in as well, to help as a personal assistant, tea connoisseur, and generally nice robot.

One day, while having tea and enjoying some truly delightful baked goods, Bessie, the generic cow and robot programmer, had a suggestion.

“Remember that pirate treasure map that you’ve had sitting around forever? Maybe we could go seek out the lost treasure of Captain Quillbeard.”  They looked at it to help justify this picture:

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They were impressed.  It looked like it must have taken someone a fair bit of work to make that map.  Also it clearly indicated something important.

Princess said, “This sounds like a very plausible premise for an adventure.”

Boris was puzzled, “Wait, we just found the pile of treasure chests in the quiet spot. What would be the point of even more treasure?”

“Because it would be fun. Also Captain Quillbeard’s treasure is a mystery. Maybe there’s something better than old coins.”

“Well, I suppose that does sound like a plausible premise for an adventure.”

They decided to start the adventure the typical way, by surfing the web for a while. Princess looked up Captain Quillbeard to do some research. She found nothing in wikipedia, which was strange. A query on hedgehogtreasureseekercentral.com returned no information. Google was no use. They even tried Bing, which returned results with a wikipedia article on chickens. After reading articles on chickens, red junglefowl, Christmas Island, and a number of other fascinating things, she had almost given up when she discovered an ancient secret web site that told about Captain Quillbeard. (note to reader: please make sure to visit this important link and read the important information therein, then come back here.)

The story told by the mysterious ancient web page seemed like typical pirate fare, but had some interesting information. Unfortunately that was all she could find, and all the links on that page to other notable things were broken.

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Jane was concerned. “OK, so this is one of those things we can’t just wrap up quickly, like most things.  So we need to actually for the first time in our lives have a plan.  And we have to make a real plan.” She was still recovering from her tech. career, and thus began most sentences with either “OK,” or a conjunction.
Boris suggested a plan, “First I finish this pie, then we take a helicopter loaded with shovels and stuff to the place the map indicates, then we dig the stuff up, then we take the stuff we find back in the helicopter. Finally, we have more pie.”
“OK, there are some problems, though. First, the island is part of Henakau. And they don’t permit helicopters and hasn’t got an airport. And the only way to travel there is by boat.  Also, quit hogging the pie.”
“So we fly to the nearest normal place, then hire a boat, eh?”
“OK, but part of their customs require that you take the boat from your home.”
“Fine. We have to take the boat. I hate boats.”

They ordered rope, shovels, metal detectors, food, and boat-related supplies from hedgehogtreasureseekercentral.com with free two day shipping, then sat around for two days binge watching Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog on Netflix and baking macarons while they waited, except Bessie who worked on reprogramming Redbot to serve as a Henakau protocol droid.

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Princess Pricklepants, Boris, Moonflower, Redbot, Bessie, and Jane prepared for adventure while robots loaded the ship.

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Boris said, “Maybe we could use a helicopter and air-lift the ship to Henaku?”
Jane explained, “That would be prosaic and dull. Besides, you can’t have adventures with helicopters.”
Boris began to think about explaining that you could have many adventures with helicopters, but then realized that using a pirate ship to seek out the treasure would add extra symbolism that would enhance the narrative. He then worried that there wasn’t a proper call to adventure, as a conversation over tea and cookies was barely a call to adventure at all. He thought about many other things as well, but we won’t dwell on them here, since the literary thoughts of bears are not the point of all this.  While he thought about pie and came up with a plan that didn’t involve eating more pie, but would help the narrative.

Boris pulled out his cell phone and called Princess. “Hello, this is Princess Pricklepants, hedgehog adventurer, who is calling?” (She was still working out etiquette for answering phones, she really preferred texting, where manners were easier to understand).
In a deep spooky voice, as mysterious as he could muster, Boris said, “It is I, the ghost of Captain Quillbeard. You must seek my treasure, for the Universe now needs it for its very safety, and only you can undertake this great quest!”
“Boris, is that you? Why are you using that odd voice?”
(spooky voice) “No, it’s Captain Quillbeard’s ghost, eh!”
“Why does my phone say Boris is calling?”
(spooky voice) “I am haunting his phone.”
“Oh, but also Boris is standing next to me, and is using the same funny voice and saying the same things.”
(spooky voice) “Pay no attention to the bear, eh, listen to me, the ghost of Captain Quillbeard. Seek the treasure.”
“Well, we were seeking the treasure, so I think we’re all set here, thanks Bor… Captain Ghost.”
“Oh, thanks, eh… hey, wait, you’re supposed to refuse at first, then go along with it…”
“Well then, I refuse to not seek the treasure.”
“No, you refuse to… Well, never mind. See you on the ship.”
“See you, Boris.”

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With that settled, they were ready to go. Boris was not fully satisfied, and was also annoyed that that last photo put the hedgehog in focus and left him in the background, but figured it was a start. Boris knew they needed to meet a wise person to mentor them at this point for everything to work out. He figured they’d met Moonflower recently, so that was pretty close.

“Hey Moonflower, got a second?”
“I have all the moments in the Cosmos, all in the now.”
“Oh, perfect, you sound like a wise mentor. I need to ask you a favor.”
“Right on, man.”
“Uh, so we need someone to help Princess make decisions on the journey, a kind of wise counselor who can guide her.”
“Oh, I’ve helped out on some really wild trips, I am so in.”
“Perfect. Thanks!”

Things were going swimmingly, except with a boat and ideally no swimming. They prepared to board and begin their journey.

End of Part I

Coming soon: Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: Part II – The Great Middle

Will they find the treasure? Will there be sharks involved? Will they keep reusing one small set with boat pictures over and over? How will they manage to make a set that involves digging up treasure? These and other things will be answered soonish. Here is one small preview that answers the shark question, though:

shark_week

Princess Pricklepants, Entrepreneur


Dear reader, we regret to inform you that we haven’t got any proper introduction to this, our latest post, nor any apologies to offer, nor any reader letters to review, nor other things like that which fill up space at the top of a post that are easy to use as filler to help avoid going and writing the other parts of the story that involve more work, and thinking, and coming up with ideas, and setup to do. Rather we are going to immediately jump into this tale, with no delays, rambling, digressions, or other peripheral delays. And here we are… Jumping right in.  Oddly, while it feels unsettlingly like somehow that isn’t happening, clearly this is an illusion. Probably it’s to do with Quentin, who had recently written in to say something, though we can’t remember what.

As a break from the usual format, we’re also going to not start with a picture, but instead start with words and then a picture, and then words under that picture.

Princess Pricklepants had given up the farming life, and was preparing to retire to a life of royal luxury, when Jane, her accountant gave her a call. “These phones, they’re so hard to dial with hooves. Anyway, I was calling to tell you that the farm wound up eating a surprising amount of capital, to the point that it’s a plot device requiring you to find some form of livelihood.” Princess wasn’t sure what that meant, but assumed it was good news. Jane went on, “You have to find a job.” Maybe not great news. The lack of a photo above the dialogue was moderately unsettling to Princess, somehow, adding to her sense of unease.

But Princess, in her inimitable metaphorical style, decided to make lemons out of lemonade. So, Princess decided to pursue her true passion, acting.

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Sadly, in addition to breaking the fourth wall, she also broke a table, a chair, several cups, and broke the skin of several actors. While the director of the show she was trying out for was a patient dinosaur, he eventually had to say “rawr,” which is dinosaur for “Don’t call us, we’ll call you, and we’ll be sending a bill for the broken props and medical expenses.”

Jane noted that this meant that there were going to have to be some lifestyle reductions until they had an income.

Princess came up with a brilliant plan. She would play to her core strengths, and pursue her true passion, acupuncture.

Accupuncturist

While it seemed like a great idea, in retrospect, acupuncture was very difficult to make a living at. While she tried to be polite, her patients kept whining. And screaming. No patients ever returned after their first visit, and most refused to pay, even when they seemed much healthier once they had every acupuncture point stabbed artfully (and politely) with her quills. A few sent medical bills to her saying something about blood transfusions.  When she checked on hedgehogaccupuncturistcentral.com she was surprised to find many other hedgehogs had similar problems.

So she decided to pursue her real passion, photography.

Photographer

She decided that taking photos of small farm animals on table-top sets had to be the start of a brilliant and lucrative photography career. Strangely, her work never became massively popular in a whirlwind of fame bringing in no cash, prizes, or wonderful adventures as a brilliant and respected photographic artist.  She did get a photo shared on Cute Overload, her favorite blog, but somehow that didn’t bring everlasting fame, but more like twenty views. Perplexing.

Clearly that was a ridiculous way to spend her time. So she looked around at what was popular in the Internets and noticed bird photography was very popular. She could still pursue her true passion, photography, by doing a different type of picture-taking. Also, birds were moderately interesting, at least for nerds, so she could use them as a market. Perfect. They buy all kinds of worthless things.

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At first things were going pretty well. She found a bird, it didn’t fly away, and she took a picture.  Then she looked at the blurry picture, poorly composed, and with terrible light, and determined that she’d need to find another bird. This was tedious. She also realized that while she could pursue this course for a very long time, enough to fill a few blog posts full of Princess Pricklepants, Bird Photographer, this would be very dull for the poor readers. Also, her blurry duck photo was rejected by National Geographic.

So she decided not pursue this as a career. What was left? She had so many skills, advice columnist, farmer, warrior, space traveler, but none of those things were a proper job fitting a hedgehog of noble bearing, regal poise, and impeccable politeness.

Then she had a great idea! She would be a web entrepreneur. She began to study…

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This was slow and dull, so she began a montage with 80s music to make it go faster.

Princess Pricklepants, System Analyst

Yet, the post was already too long even with this career-related activity compressed into a peppy compressed series of images edited into a sequence to condense space and time illustrating her hard work. Also when she put in her resume, all her applications as a programmer and systems analyst were rejected by the companies she applied to. They said things about degrees, and prior experience, but it was clear that they were hiding the truth – another sinister side of the Perils of Pet Prejudice.

And so she decided that next episode she would pursue her real passion, doing a web startup.  But that is something to tell about another time, since we’re close to 1000 words, which is how long these things typically go. So, for now, adieu.  And soon, Princess Pricklepants, Startup Founder might appear.  Or maybe not soon.  Given the way these things go, we might wind up with Princess Pricklepants Pirate Adventurer in a few months.  Or maybe, Princess Pricklepants, Bird Photographer, because we’d really like to do that even if it’d be dull and tedious for everyone but us.  Sorry, we like taking bird photos, even though it is definitely not a profitable venture.

next:

Princess Pricklepants, Startup Founder Extraordinaire

Princess Pricklepants and the Surprising Set of Events


Dear Readers,

We have a few items before our story that we feel are important to express.

First, this is our eighty-seventh post, the first being 1 year, 6 months, 1 week, and 3 days ago. Happy 1 year, 6 month, 1 week, and 3 dayiversary! Princess would like you all to know you really are our very favorite readers, and we are glad you are reading these tales of hedgehog royalty. You’re the best, except Quentin. Sorry Quentin, you’re second best.

Second, while we’re a little sad to say it, the following story is yet another in the series relating to goings on at Princess Pricklepants’ farm. This is not because it took a bit of work to get that set going, and we’re milking it since we’re lazy. It is for some other reason, one that is very persuasive.

Third, an attentive reader mentioned that weblogs are these things where you post relevant items of note about your life, goings on in things you’re interested in, or other sorts of things that aren’t stories about pet prejudice, procrastinating, encountering anarchist Barbie blogs, etc.  That reader was Quentin, and he’s wrong.

Finally, the following story contains graphic scenes of toy violence and may not be appropriate for our younger readers or those who are shocked, horrified, or distressed by such scenes.  You have been advised. For those brave enough to press on, here’s the first picture followed by words.

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Princess was concerned. She had gotten back from dropping off Mufiki back at his planet, and returned to a surprising scene. Mittens, the evil cat, had somehow managed to escaped the poorly guarded dungeon (as it turns out, the window slid up surprisingly easily), and had managed to seize control of the farm again. This time she’d put in an ad on Craigslist, and hired an army of men-at-arts, armed with fearsome weapons. It was a surprising set of events. Also it was a huge distraction, as she’d hoped to write a blog post.

Mittens began a bitter monologue, “It is I, Mittens, who once again have the upper hand, and this time my artful warriors shall do my bidding in…” There was a lot more, but you get the idea. The robots had been banished, the bear was in the paddock again with no reading material, the crocodiles (who had a terrible fear of heights) were stuck on a roof, the cows were stuck in the pasture doing nothing, leaving Jane, the cow accountant, very distressed at the state of the farm’s finances. There was also a new wall that the cat apparently believed left the castle invulnerable to catapults. Cats don’t really understand catapults, apparently.

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Twenty minutes later, once the monologue was complete, Princess held council with the cows (and sheep). Bessie, the generic cow (and sad robotic engineer with no robots to program) suggested that they might want to also put an ad on Craiglist and hire some kind of backup. This didn’t seem practical, since the cat had their computer, and Princess forgot her iPhone back on the Planet of the Baboons. Jane suggested they wait a week for the farm to go bankrupt and then they could buy it back when it was foreclosed on. This involved patience, which wasn’t Princess’ way. Princess wished she could get to the computer, since she could visit hedgehogfarmercentral.com for advice, and also catch up on email, and maybe play a little Scrabble online, and then work on a blog post after reading wikipedia a little, but alas they were in a digital dark age. After more reflection she came up with a daring plan to be described after the next picture.

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“Mittens, I challenge you to put up one warrior in single combat against one of ours. The victor shall take the farm, the loser shall be banished,” said Princess. Mittens replied in a long drawn out agreement that we will spare you from reading, and selected Sir. Meow-Meow (the cat had given them their titles) as her representative.

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Princess chose Boris. The cat was annoyed, but had to let it pass. Boris was released, ambled forth to the field of battle, and said to the man-at-art, “You, good sir, will now pay for depriving me of my copy of War and Peace that I was in the middle of reading and really into.  It’s kind of long, but in a metaphorical sense Princes is our Catherine the Great, while your cat is Napoleon, who will suffer a stinging defeat today. Or perhaps Princess is like Natasha Rostova, while you are like Ippolit Vasilyevich, and the cat like…” The bear’s attempts are comparisons of the current situation to the Tolstoy novel became complex, detailed, and somewhat strained, so we’ll spare you.

The knight taunted the bear, “Foolish bear, you think you can defeat me!?” He then said many very unkind things about Tolstoy, Russian literature in general, bears, hedgehogs, cows, tea parties, and many other things. All were so impolite we can’t repeat them, but imagine something very rude, then imagine googling it (with SafeSearch on) and finding the worst thing in the results, something truly uncouth, impolite, poorly informed, and ill-mannered. Then imagine multiplying it by two (or if you are bad at math imagine doubling it). It was that bad. Please don’t actually do those google searches, though. Princess was shocked at the impropriety, and even the cat almost looked like it was blushing under its plushy fur.

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Several seconds later Sir Meow-Meow deeply regretted his words. Several more seconds later, Mittens, the treacherous cat, broke her agreement (as cats are wont to do) and called out for her warriors to attack.

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Unfortunately for the cat’s warriors, the crocodiles managed to find the elevator in the tower and joined the fray. As the battle escalated Princess went to retrieve The Secret Weapon. Christine, the cow safety officer, organized the cows into a safe orderly formation.

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The crocodile-laden hedgehog war tower (and orderly row of cows) struck fear in the heart of art model and cat alike. They fled in terror, never to return in all likelihood.

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Princess looked down on the tower and reflected with some melancholy at how her farm, intended to cultivate food and good things, had somehow brought so much chaos and despair to the world. She also had recently peed on part of the farm a bit to the left (tastefully obscured by the battle tower) so it was needing some extra cleaning. She realized it might be time to consider some new vocation, and began to think about retiring from the farm, filling out a resumé, finding some new line of work, and then she could check email, read some wikipedia, and maybe work on a blog post.

Note: No animals or toys were harmed in the production of this post, though there is still some cleaning to do.

Princess Pricklepants’ Continued Guide To Politeness, Manners, Delightfulness, and Grace In Common Situations


Previously: Princess Pricklepants’ Guide To Politeness, Manners, Delightfulness, Grace, and Related Things

Hello again!  We should really have waited a month or two before posting again, since it’s impolite to post to your blog too often, but several readers had emailed in to express their gratitude for our practical and helpful guide to manners, but wondered about manners and politeness in other common situations that could arise besides tea parties.  For instance, they wondered about manners on buses, and in supermarket lines, and when family visited and things along those lines.  Unfortunately hedgehog princesses aren’t the types to ride buses, and the hand servants take care of trips to the market, so she doesn’t have a lot of advice to offer on all of the topics that inquiries were made about, but here she volunteers to you, our gentle readers, a guide to several common social circumstances where questions of manners, politeness, grace, and social grace often come up, with tips, advice, and pointers for navigating the complexities of day-to-day social life with others that were inquired about.

Lesson 1: Catapults

“Dear Princess, I throw tea parties regularly since it is the polite thing to do, but I have become very concerned with the actions of my husband Humperdink.  During these parties he will load our catapult with sugar bowls, cups, small animals and other items and fling them around.  The costs in lost china have begun to really rack up, and I am afraid the ASPCA might show up!  What should I do?”

-Big Trouble With A Little China

Manners - 01

Dear Big Trouble,

At times you might have a guest over (perhaps at a tea party, though perhaps in some other circumstance, for readers who don’t throw tea parties regularly, please ignore any tea party related references, these lessons are still generically valuable) who wishes to test their catapult in your home using your fine china (or other things).

What do you do?

Explain to them that catapulting is an outdoors activity, and recommend they take the catapult and your china outside where it’s appropriate and delightful to fling household objects through the air.  Have fun with it, try suggesting that if they take the catapult outside that they could fling jewel encrusted antiques, rare glasswork, a cat, or other items that would be fun to watch fly, so they are more motivated to move it outside. Please note that cats belong indoors, since outdoor cats can cause environmental harm, injuring and eating native species, so after you’re done flinging the cat, it’s good manners to bring it back in.

-Princess

Lesson 2: Cows on the Couch

“Dear Princess.  I try to be as classy as a lady as I can manage, but I’ve run into something that’s burning me up.  My husband Vern has started bringing his cows inside the darned house!  They even have managed to climb onto the couch!  It’s driving me insane.  What should I do?”

-Flustered With The Cows

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Dear Flustered,

Unfortunately, time and again, we all run into the situation of visitors bringing cattle into our homes, with the cows peacefully grazing atop a couch.

What do you do?

Politely but firmly explain that animals are not permitted on the couch (unless they are hedgehogs), and that it would really be best to leave the cows on the floor.

-Princess

Lesson 3: Passages to Secret Gardens

“Dear Princess P. P., recently my children have started to claim that they’ve discovered a secret door that leads to a magical garden, and go on and on about their fantasy life, neglecting chores, failing to do their homework.  I’ve tried to talk some sense into them, but their odd obsession has started to take over their life.  What do I do?”

-Mom Of The Delusional

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Dear Delusional Mom,

Time and again, youngsters will become very excited at the discovery of a secret door that leads to a mysterious and wonderful secret garden full of mystery and wonder, and excitedly try to enter.

What do you do?

Explain politely, but firmly, that the time for entering into the magical alternate universe full of adventure, wonder, and talking animals (not parrots or hedgehogs, but ones that don’t normally speak) is after one has finished eating all the food on one’s plate, taking care of chores, and completing other responsibilities, and not before.  This will ensure that the important things are done before one wanders off into a realm of infinite possibility and delight.

-Princess

Lesson 4: Witch Accusations

“Dear Princess, I have a tough one.  My daughter, Zenobia, has gotten out of control.  It started with things like pointing out my weight, and has moved to to her angrily ranting.  What do you do with an out of control child? She even called me a witch!”

-Frazzled

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Dear Fraggled,

It’s a sign of our times that it’s become commonplace to find that over a cup of tea, in a spirited debate, or while playing cards, someone will insist that you are a witch.

What do you do?

Find a Witch Scale and weigh the accused to see if they weigh more than a duck.  If you don’t have a duck handy, find something that’s roughly duck-weight, for instance a sugar bowl, and put them to the test.  Since ducks float, this is a very scientific as well as practical way to sort out the answer.

-Princess

Lesson 5: Pirate Treasure Maps

“Dear Princess, my husband works on a cargo ship that’s been traveling through Indonesia and around the Horn of Africa.  There is a lot of piracy in those areas.  I’ve told him that I want to take out insurance, for fear of something terrible happening, but he’s fought it, saying that I should trust him to be able to handle the situation.  I even showed him a web site on the internet with maps of piracy and pointed out how his routes intersect on the map, but he’ll have nothing to do with it.  What should I do?”

-Dreading Pirates Robbing

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Dear Dread Pirate Roberts,

Very often in day to day life, we all run into the situation of having a pirate or two drop by to visit bringing with them a treasure map that leads to untold fortunes in gold and gems.

What do you do?

Remember this simple principle – sharing is caring.  Be sure to arrange to have the booty evenly divided among the survivors of the treasure quest.

Lesson 5.1: Climbing under the table and knocking over the treasure map and some guests.

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It’s considered polite to climb under tables at tea parties, but in pirate negotiations things are a little different.

What do you do if you climb under the table and knock over the map and perhaps a guest?

Say, “excuse me, so sorry to knock over that map (and/or guest), I really didn’t mean to.  I apologize.”  That’s typically all it takes to sooth the feelings of pirate treasure negotiators whose precious map/colleague has been flung to the floor.

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Lesson 5.2: Pirate Treasure Negotiators Fainting

Very often when making deals over treasure, one party might get over-excited and faint/be knocked over to the ground.  This is a very delicate situation.

What do you do?

Offer the fainting/falling party a nice cup of tea, and gently help them back up.  Do not bring up their clumsiness or criticize them for falling just because a table knocked into them.  This is not polite.

Lesson 6: Annoying Photographers

“Dear Princess, I’ve been looking at your photos, and I’ve noticed a few things that I’d like to offer as a helpful critique.

Lighting: It looks like you’re using normal indoor lighting for your photos.  That warm directional lighting is fine for day-to-day life, but photos tend to work better with somewhat cooler color temperatures and more diffused light.  Also having a few sources from different directions can fill shadows nicely.

Perspective: Your photos are often shot from odd and jarring angles.  It’s best to try to get down to the point of view of your subject.

Depth of Field: Many of your photos have a very deep depth of field.  If you shoot with a fast prime you can gather more light in lower light situations and also have attractive blurring (“bokeh”) in your photos.

Sets: You use a lot of pieces for sets in your shots, but they look like you picked toys up from Goodwill.   A few higher quality props and a backdrop would make for much more effective photos, keeping distracting elements out, and making sure that the elements in the frame were compelling.

These are just some constructive tips to help you on your photographic journey.”

-Camera Man

Manners - 08

Dear Photography Male,

There’s little in life that’s more insufferable than some relative/friend/visitor whose gotten a new DSLR or other fancy camera to gush on and on about photography, yammering on about f-stops, trying to show you pictures of birds they’ve taken, and being generally dull and droning about their little hobby. They may also criticize your photos and criticizing your equipment for not being fancy/expensive enough.

What do you do?

Politely but firmly explain that they should find other camera-nerds to ramble on with, since bringing up cameras and photography in polite company is something of a faux-pas. If they keep yammering on, kick them out. Nobody needs a know-it-all photographer being a party-pooper.

Lesson 6.1: Crying Photographers

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After helping photographers learn that they shouldn’t keep going on, and on, and on about their pictures and cameras and lenses and fancy lights and tripods and speed lights and so on they may burst into tears, deeply upset at not being able to drone on autistically about their prime obsession.

What do you do?

Give them a hug, and tell them that it’s OK.  You can also them know that their OCD is probably biological, and there’s little hope for them, but that they have families that care about them, so perhaps they could go off and find them now.  Suggest that people with their afflictions might benefit from a comfort animal.  Also recommend some other hobby, like coin collecting, that highly obsessive anti-social nerds like them might enjoy in the quiet of their home so long as they don’t inflict it on everyone all the time.  Be sure to be polite.

Lesson 7: Pirate Maps

“Dear Princess, I got your reply, but I feel that you didn’t quite understand my question.  I was talking about life insurance, not pirate maps.  I only brought up maps to make the point that the routes my husband was traveling on were areas where modern piracy is a serious issue.”

-Misunderstood

Manners - 10

Dear Misunderstood, Hedgehogs have very poor eyesight, which makes reading much harder for them.  Sorry if there were any misunderstandings.  Due to their poor eyesight, they rely on their sense of smell to guide them.  It smells like you like pirate maps a lot, which is great!  I didn’t exactly have a lesson to offer here, but wanted to show you this lovely and delightful pirate treasure map that I skillfully negotiated away from the others.  Please ignore the dead cow (and the Witch Scale) in the background, the poor lighting, the distracting elements in the scene, and the other things that annoying photographers might bring up.

Relating to your other question smells, here are a few more helpful lessons.

Lesson 7.1: Pirate Map Sharing

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Sometimes when you have a treasure map, others might become interested in it, and interested in joining your grand adventure to seek out the lost treasure of Captain Quillbeard.

What do you do?

Remember that sharing is caring.  Let them join you in the quest, making sure to explain that treasure is only divided among the survivors of the adventure, and cows have been known to have some very unfortunate mishaps on past treasure quests, but that they really are welcome.  Once you’ve formed a team, be sure that you’ve got a strong friendship, and consider mentioning to the cow that they can be kind of passive aggressive, but then don’t.

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Pals.  Good.

Lesson 7.2: Pirate Maps and Crocodiles

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How many times has this happened to you?  You and your cow friend have a treasure map and are getting ready to set off on a grand adventure, when a pair of crocodiles show up and one leaps on you in attack!

What do you do?

Remember the words or Gandhi, MLK, and Thoreau, and suggest that you all go get some ice cream to settle your differences.
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Mmm.  Ice Cream.

Lesson 8: Guests Crocodile Wrestling

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A common event when you have crocodiles at ice cream parties is that a youngster will get a little too excited and begin crocodile wrestling.

What do you do?

Remind the guest of the following:
Alligators and crocodiles are rather different, and generally it’s more dangerous to wrestle with a crocodile.
Explain that while it’s good practice to heavily feed ice cream to either before wrestling them so they are less aggressive, both should be trained before such activities.
Note that it takes a lot of training to be able to safely wrestle them, and that many people are injured by these prehistoric death machines.
Firmly but politely note that like flinging your fine china with a catapult, crocodile wrestling is definitely not an indoor activity.
You should also remind the guest that both crocodile wrestling and alligator wrestling are rather barbaric activities, so while their enthusiasm is understandable, that it is not at all polite to engage in crocodile (or alligator) wrestling at a tea party.
Finally, remind them of the words or Gandhi, MLK, and/or Thoreau, and suggest that they learn to peacefully coexist with the crocodiles.

Here is a helpful illustration of Princess explaining these things to the young crocodile wrestler:
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“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Lesson 9: Weird Guests/Uncles Talking About Ways To Get Many Air Miles and That Sort of Thing

“Dear Princess, my husband is obsessed with collecting air miles and other bonus points.  If I use the wrong credit card to buy some gas, I’ll hear all about it.  He’s starting to use all kinds of weird code words like vanilla, dollar coins, fungibles, 3x, and other things where they are referring to some arcane way to get points.  I do like vacations, but it sometimes feels like the obsession with gathering these points isn’t about getting a cheaper vacation, but just showing off a point balance to other people who are obsessed with this kind of thing.  And advice?”

-Points Widow

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Dear Window,

Sometimes a guest or weird uncle or other person may show up and start rambling on and on about personal finances, and how to get a lot of air mile points, or mention some credit card or another that they can use to get some reward or another. It’s very strange and confusing. They may even try to show you their credit cards, when everyone know one doesn’t do such things in polite company.

What do you do?

Tell them to find some internet forum where weirdos gather to discuss such things. Under no circumstances should you ever engage them, it only encourages them.

Lesson 10: The Call To Adventure

“Dear Princess, I wrote earlier and tried to explain that my kids are spending too much time in a fantasy world.  There is no real secret garden, they just imagine it, I think as some kind of escapism.  It’s concerning.  Also, my pen name was ‘Mom Of The Delusional’, not ‘Delusional Mom.’  I don’t think it’s very polite to get people’s names wrong.”

-Now Kind of Annoyed Mom Of The Delusional

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Dear Annoying Delusional Mom,

It smells like you’re having some trouble with manners!  At times a guest or relative might show up with a space ship/time machine/magical portal/interesting magical or technological item that brings one into a new world of adventure, mystery, and wonder.

What do you do?

Agree.  Even if you try to say no, the author will figure out a way to force you on the adventure, and it’s not polite to disagree with or interrupt story tellers.

Manners - 20Adventure ho!

That concludes this simple guide to etiquette in common social circumstances.  We hope that the next time you encounter a guest crocodile wrestling at your ice cream party, encounter a crying photographer, have to figure out how to deal with cows on the couch politely, or manage any of these other common social situations that our guide will have given you pointers to navigate them with grace and politeness.

Princess Pricklepants’ Guide To Politeness, Manners, Delightfulness, Grace, and Related Things


Princess Penelope Pricklepants presents this practical guide to manners, politeness, and related topics to you, dear reader.  This guide is not presented out of any concern that you are impolite, ill mannered, or uncouth, but only because this is a topic which she, as royalty, has a deep and extensive knowledge about.  In this guide she hopes to share some insights, thoughts, tips, and pointers with the hope of helping to make the world a more polite, well-mannered, and generally delightful place.

Lesson 1: Hats

Princess Pricklepants wearing a nice hat at her tea party.

It’s perfectly delightful for hedgehogs to wear hats indoors, so long as they remain on the head, or so long as they fall in a delightful or pleasant way when wandering about.  Hats with straps are not delightful at all though, as we illustrate in this helpful example:

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If you look carefully, you will note Princess’ gentle concern at the impoliteness of the hands that put this hat on her.  Do not under any circumstances ever strap a hat onto a hedgehog.  It’s distressingly impolite.

Lesson 2: Tea Parties

Tea parties are always wonderful places to practice manners, politeness, and that sort of thing.  For our example tea party, the kind and gracious models Artemis along with her daughter Arteminica are hosting a small party for our delightful guest to help guide the teaching of lessons in manners.

At tea parties, hats are optional, as you see in the following illustration.  Also, note how Princess shows an interest in whatever things happen to be on the table, in the room, on the couch, under the table, or in any other interesting spots.

Princess Pricklepants politely hatless at a nice tea party.

Lesson 3: Peeing

Hedgehog sitting on couch at tea party, wearing hat.

If you happen to pee on a couch (and who doesn’t pee on the couch at times?), it’s polite to make sure that any photos of the event don’t include unpleasantly specific details.

Lesson 4: Eye contact

Hedgehog, hear turned away, wearing hat at tea party.

If there are guests who have eyes, try to look at them sometimes, this is polite.

Lesson 5: Unexpected guests

Hedgehog at tea party with toothpick holder.

If an unexpected guest shows up, like Princess’s special friend, Pick, who is also a hedgehog, though a different species, be sure to greet them and make sure they feel welcome to the tea party. You may wish to compliment them on their colorful quills or other interesting qualities, like the ability to stand remarkably still for very long periods.  If you happened to poop on the couch while meeting the new company, be sure to be discreet, have a helping hand clean it up, and be sure to thank the hosts for using a plastic couch that’s very convenient for taking care of such things quickly and discreetly.

Lesson 6: Climbing under the table

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If a guest should try to climb under the table during a tea party, this isn’t considered polite.  Gently remind them to try to remain above the table, perhaps with an unassuming hand gesture, as Arteminica illustrates here.  Also remind them that while in general wearing hats to indoor tea parties is polite, it’s considered extra-polite to remove your hat before climbing under the table.

Lesson 7: Toppling over other guests

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If, while politely wandering about under the table, you happen to inadvertently fling one of your friends on the ground, be sure to say something polite, for example, “Oh, pardon me, I didn’t mean to knock you over.”  Also remove your hat as a gesture of respect.

Lesson 8: Stepping on friends

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If you inadvertently clobber a friend, and stomp on their hand and/or arm, try being subtle about it.  Helpfully lighten the mood by wandering off a bit to sniff at something.

Lesson 9: More knocking and fleeing

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If you happen to knock a friend over while trying to climb under their chair, and they inadvertently kick another guest in the head, be sure to say, “excuse me.”  Note also that the hat has been respectfully removed.

Lesson 10: Helping hands

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Sometimes the hand friends might grab you and hold you in poses.  If they do, make sure to let them know that you appreciate their gentle help, and that you are sorry if you accidentally stab them a little with your quills.  If you do this, you’ll be sure to knock their socks off, or if you are incredibly polite, you might even manage to knock their feet off.

Lesson 11: More under the table dealings

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Since hedgehogs are burrowing animals, it’s incredibly difficult to not climb under tables.  Really, it’s mind-bogglingly challenging.  It’s virtually impossible to resist the alluring dark area under there.  When you do climb under the table, if a guest should spill their tea, be sure to apologize for any spilled tea.

Lesson 12: Flinging guests backwards while fleeing tea

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Tea parties can be stressful for hedgehogs, and you might feel the need to leave seconds after sitting/being set on the couch.  While we may have already covered, this, as a gentle reminder, when flinging friends backwards in their chairs towards the ground as you leave the table, which is a truly delightful thing to do, be sure to do so as politely and with as much grace as possible.

Lesson 13: Toppling techniques (advanced)

Hedgehog climbing off couch under table, knocking someone over.

At tea parties people will be flung backwards and thrown to the ground, this is a natural and inevitable development.  When you do manage to throw a guest from their chair, spilling tea cups, and flinging hats aside, be sure to do so with as much grace and elegance as possible.

There’s only one proper way to end a tea party, and that’s by ensuring that tea cups are spilling, and guests’ limbs are flailing as they hurtle towards the ground with chairs toppling backwards.  If you follow this simple guide, you’ll be sure to have a very delightful tea party with many very memorable moments.

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next: Princess Pricklepants’ Continued Guide To Politeness, Manners, Delightfulness, and Grace In Common Situations