Princess Pricklepants, Astrophysicist


Dear reader,

We have happy news!  We wrote a children’s book which we weren’t enthralled with so we set it aside and wrote a couple more children’s books until we found a story we really liked.  We’re in the (long, not very easy) process of illustrating it now.

This little story was mostly just created to force ourself to practice at illustrating (still working at it).  Hence there are no photos, though there are still many pictures with words under them.

The book itself will be a long slow slog since we’re going to be submitting to publishers and all that business.  If anyone has any helpful advice on that front, we’d be delighted to hear it.

And now we begin with our first nicely illustrated picture with words under it.

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Princess Pricklepants was sitting at the table with a nice cup of tea on a quiet day, thinking about things, which was her favorite thing to do.  After a bit of reflection she was overcome with an unusually strong feeling that she should do something good for the world, something big. Really big.

She ran into Sam, a trusted old friend who’d always been there, and had been in many adventures, despite what some pedantic nerds might say about it. “Hi Sam, I’m working on something big!”

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After fourteen seconds, Sam the sloth had finished asking, “aren’t you already big enough?”

Her Highness made a note to schedule another manners lesson with Sam.

“We need to have a talk about manners.  Soon.  But not yet, as I’m working on something big.”

After a long silence that implied quiet agreement, Her Highness wandered off to the study.

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Approximately ten seconds after she had left, Sam had finally finished saying, “no, but I didn’t mean you were big like that.” Alas, he saw Her Highness was already gone.  Sam hoped that was the end of the excitement for the day and decided it was time to slow things down a bit.

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Her Highness decided to develop a theory of astrophysics that explained dark matter more satisfactorily than current models. That seemed big in every sense.

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As she worked, it felt like she was in some kind of wonderful montage with a cool, kind of edgy pop soundtrack driving her quickly towards a discovery that would take far too long to describe in a narrative story format.

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She developed her hypothesis:

Dark matter is actually the interstellar dispersal of lost pens and socks!

So elegant!  It explained dark matter.  It explained the mysteries of pens disappearing all the time.  It explained singleton socks.  It fit the evidence – socks and pens both had mass. This was science and this was big.

She performed an experiment to test her hypothesis.  She took a nice pen out to a patisserie where she bought some nice macarons (mmm).

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When she returned, the pen was gone.  She then looked everywhere for it and even got helpers to look.  It was nowhere to be found, thus proving it was nowhere on Earth and must have drifted off into space.  Eureka!  Science!

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She brought her paradigm shifting work to the Forest Science Council to explain, but the idea that dark matter is actually the interstellar dispersal of lost pens and socks was received surprisingly poorly.  Mr. Badger went so far as to call the idea “tosh,” which seemed rather extreme. After a disappointing meeting, she returned home to have a cup of tea and work out a better plan for sharing her amazing new scientific paradigm.

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As luck would have it, that very evening the James Webb Space Telescope was brought online, and discovered remarkably unusual and unexpected forms in dark matter which the surprised space scientists described as “like a bunch of pens and socks.”

Princess Pricklepants was delighted to hear this news!  With this evidence, her science was even more science-y!

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She returned to the Forest Science Council to present her case with this new data, knowing there would be much less risk of having her theory labeled “tosh.”

Unfortunately, despite unimpeachable empirical evidence backing her case, the theory was still not well received.  Ms. Bluejay was still concerned.  Thus far the council had only seen a few articles on Facebook, but no serious academic work, and the Forest Science Council had just issued another advisory to not trust science journalism posted in exuberant articles on social media until one had reviewed the original research.

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Her Highness briefly considered renting a skywriter to send the message “Dark Matter: Really Lost Pens And Socks!” but deemed it impolite to write on the sky.  Also, skywriting wasn’t exactly scientific…  Still, it was fun to imagine.

She realized that she would have to write a paper including the notes and research from the James Webb Space Telescope space scientist people along with her own significant parts.

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Happily, once the Forest Council reviewed the work, they agreed that her work in the sciences was indeed valuable and significant, and the paper was published in their newsletter.

While it felt strange to have a story wrap up with so few twists, fairly minor conflicts, and personal stakes that really weren’t very high, she was pleased enough with the illustrations, and was honestly pretty relieved to know what had happened to all those socks and pens.

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“Sam, in my heart I’ve missed spending time on art history, manners, and related things, even if they aren’t big.  I suppose being small is still fine.”

“Silly Princess, your work on art and manners and that other stuff amuses, delights, and brings a bit of wonder to the world.  That’s no small thing.”

“Well thank you, Sam,” said Princess Pricklepants politely.

The End

 

 

 

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Princess Pricklepants and More Hedgehog Art Through the Ages


previously

Dear reader,

Sadly, or perhaps happily, we haven’t offered much coverage of Small Furry Animal Campaign 2016, something we’ll work to rectify in some future post if we don’t get distracted by arguing with squirrels on Twitter, reading wikipedia (did you know about Moon Trees?), or researching hedgehog art through the ages.  But lately we’ve mostly been arguing with squirrels and researching hedgehog art through the ages.

Despite efforts to build bridges and create a Small Furry Animals coalition, radical squirrel partisans have created strife that’s even extended to some humans.

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Once again, there will be no story in this post per se other than the magnificent story of hedgehog art, a story that needs telling, and which goes on and on, perhaps endlessly, like a run-on sentence of art.

Let us begin with our first picture with words under it.

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Whistler’s Hedgie Mother (formally titled Arrangement of Pets in Grey and Black No.1) was painted in 1869. Whistler eventually managed to convince his mother to stop posing for portraits with her pets in 1871. While both the pet-free and petful works are held by the Musée d’Orsay, the hedgehog version has not been exhibited yet.

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Leonardo Da Vinci’s Lady With a Hedgehog (c.1488-1489) is a true high point of Renaissance hedgehog art, masterfully executed.  The human subject is not known with certainty, though the hedgehog is strongly believed by experts to be Contessa Mirandella di Pricklipanzia, a distant relation of Princess Penelope Pricklepants via the Venetian line of the family.  While the hedgehog is an actual noble-hog,  as a hedgehog she also serves as a symbol of elegance, grace, and excellent manners.

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The enigmatic and sublime beauty of Raphael’s early work, Portrait of a Lady with a Hedgiecorn, has been a subject hedgehog art critics have discussed for centuries. The influence of Da Vinci on Raphael’s work is clearly seen here in the similarities to the Mona Lisa in pose, gaze, and format of this painting. Da Vinci’s influence can also be seen in the use of a hedgehog, following Da Vinci’s Lady with Hedgehog, and again symbolizing elegance, grace, and impeccable manners. A true Renaissance hedgehog art masterwork.

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Caravaggio’s Boy with a Basket of Fruit and Some Hedgehogs, c.1593, is a stunning work, the light, expressiveness, and technical execution are all superb, and illustrate the transition from the more constrained and austere styles of the Renaissance into the more dynamic, dramatic styles of the Baroque, as we can see by the pair of hedgehogs striking dramatic poses and the powerful lighting on the quills. Strangely, this work was not well accepted by the public. The culture of Renaissance Italy held unusual cultural superstitions regarding the idea of hedgehogs crawling in their food as “unclean.”  Caravaggio ultimately reworked the painting without hedgehogs (weakening the dynamics and drama the hedgehogs bring to the work).  The hedgehog painting was forgotten until it was recently rediscovered when a shopper bought the painting at a Goodwill in West Covina.

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Donatello’s first version of this statue created for the Vatican was titled, St. Mark With Hedgehog  and was commissioned for St. Peter’s Basilica.  Sadly, Pope Leo X was not amused, and Donatello was forced to create another statue, this time without the hedgehog.  One little known fact about this work is that Martin Luther was finally motivated to write his 95 theses because of Leo X’s unwillingness to embrace hedgehog art (according to Uncle Pricklepants).

This work marks a true high point in our excursion through hedgehog art, as we’ve now shown hedgehog artworks by Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello, which completes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sequence, and unlocks the next level.

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Hogs Playing Poker by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (yes, that really is his name) has generally been looked down upon by art critics who accuse the work of being faddish, kitschy, lowbrow culture, and a poor-taste parody of “genuine” art, which is why modern art critics are not worth listening to.  Several critics who aren’t jerks have noted that this work was very significant in helping bring hedgehog art into the modern mainstream in America, and point out Coolidge careful studied and used motifs, styles, and composition from Caravaggio, Cezanne, and other greats of hedgehog art.

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Once discovered, Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Hog (c. 1817) quickly became an iconic hedgehog work from the Romantic period. The self-reflective pose, and invitation to see things from the hedgehog’s perspective make this an incredibly powerful work which has been featured on the covers of hedgehog books, hedgehog album covers, and has become part of modern hedgehog culture.

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Finally, we turn to Warhol’s Four Hedgehogs (1962).  This work was accidentally left in the basement of the Tate until recently and was initially assumed to be some kind of parody of Warhol, while now art critics debate whether it’s parody, self-parody, meta-ironic parodying of self-parody, or the other kinds of things art critics argue about.  As with all Warhol works, it’s very hard to explain.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this continued overview of high points of hedgehog art and hope you may have learned something as well.  There are yet more works that we will likely share on Facebook and Twitter over time, and it’s likely our gift shop will be ultimately be carrying related merchandise over time, if you are a hedgehog art aficionado, keep an eye out.

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