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.

grump_hat

 

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.

nightmare_hedgemas

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.

 

The New Princess


We’ve adopted a new Princes.  Princess (Name To Be Determined) Pricklepants.  The Council hasn’t come to a decision on a final name.  Some candidates are:

Perdita

Pepita

Petunia

Poopopotomus

Persephone

Primrose

Prudence

Her Highness is eating and drinking in her new home, and enjoyed anointing the hand servants with the two offerings.

As a result, she’s already had her first bath:

bath

The princess also been given her first lesson:

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“Wait, you want me to do what!?”

 

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No!  No!  No no no!

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“Hold on, I’m busy checking email.”

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“Heh, nobody will ever find me here.”

Her place upon the throne has been secured.  More updates to come.

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
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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.)

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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…

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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.

Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: The Ultimate Finale of Completion


Dear readers, first we want to thank you for your amazing patience in tolerating this story that’s extended well past the polite and well-mannered bounds of storytelling.

One first thing to note is that the hand servants went to Costa Rica, which was fantastic.  While away we saw things, and did things that were unrelated to maintaining her highness’ blog. Her highness elected to remain at home in her dome of solitude as we couldn’t get her passport worked out in time. Yes, you don’t need to know this, since it’s not relevant to the hedgehog princess’s quest to discover the Gem of Destiny, but we will make you know it anyway, because it was that cool.

Look, we saw a toucan:

toucan2

A Toucan!

Also, we saw other cool birds:

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper (Another Cool Bird)

But we will spare you vacation photos.  You can see them here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/somebachs/

Except, wait, we also saw other things like a cool waterfall.

Cool Waterfall

Cool Waterfall

We also saw Costa Rican squirrels and coati, but will spare pushing the photos on you here.

Oh, but also one last thing, we saw a lot of chickens.

One of many chickens

Foreshadowing

We have a few more firsts to offer before we embark on our tale.

As our first first, we have some fantastic news. Someone, somewhere searched for “how to be polite at a tea party” and discovered our humble blog. This is an absolutely fantastic thing.

As a second first, several readers wrote in to ask whether we were ever going to finish this story thread and go on with other things. Well, no actually they didn’t, but we wish they did. Few readers have written in with anything besides Quentin who wanted to know about whether it was acceptable to end sentences with prepositions. Grammar’s something we have little to do with. Still, answering questions is what we’re made for. So we’ll pronounce that one should never end sentences with prepositions, nor use run-on sentences, and that’s what we’ll stick to.

As one post-ultimate first that makes that last first less of a last first, we wanted to mention that our marketing department had pitched the title, “Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: The Grand Denouement’s Ultimate Finale – The Supreme Ending Part I,” but happily that didn’t happen.  “Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: Ultimate Vengeance – The Final Denouement Part I,” also was rejected.  “Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: The Toucan Terror,” was not pitched, though we wish it had been, and are now thinking about a toucan terror episode.

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

DSC_0011 (2)

With the guidance of Bubo, our intrepid heroes reached Henakau Island. They looked at it, then quickly turned away – having seen it they really wanted to not continue looking at it.

They decided to begin their daily Quillbeard Quest meeting as a way to do something that didn’t involve facing that scene.

Bessie the generic cow said, “Wow, that’s a lot of chickens.”
Boris popped in, “Ahem, the number of chickens is not on the agenda.  Item the first, the narrator doesn’t like using things like “Boris said,” and “Jane replied,” and so on, so we’re going to use something in line with the format in dramatic scripts rather than a story narrative. Given the theatrical nature of the set design, it seems fitting. All the world’s a stage, and all the men, women, cows, bears, hedgehogs, and various other animals are merely players, eh?”
Jane: What does that even mean? “Narrator?” We aren’t characters in some story or play. Can you stop for even a minute with this meta-fourth-wall-whatever business? You’re going to alienate readers.
Boris (annoyed): If there was an Olympic event in wrongness, you’d take gold. There are so many dimensions and aspects to how you’re wrong it would take an epic quest to…

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Franklin (calling down, interrupting): Excuse me, can we get to item two?
Jane: Yes, good. Item two. The skunk wants down. We will vote. All those in favor?
(Everyone but Franklin): No.
Jane: Decided. On to item three. We’re at Henakau island. Bubo, what do we do now?
Bubo: First, make sure we bring Boris as a translator. Also, let’s bring those bottles as a gift. Third, we’ll need to establish some kind of rapport with the locals.
Jane: Well, rapport with the cows shouldn’t be too hard. Hope the chickens like bears and owls.
Boris: My experiences with chickens have been generally positive.  Better than with the toucans.  Terrifying things, toucans.
Bubo: Chickens should have no reason to fear a large predatory bird.
Moonflower: I feel like you guys are ignoring me.
Jane: Okay, so bears and owls are fine with chicken rapport. Good. Now to get to the Boris item I wish we could skip. (pause and sigh) “Homericness.”

mast

Boris: Yes, thank’s, eh. I am deeply concerned – when this adventure began we had a fine start at following a heroic journey – we even had a reference to Homer’s Polyphemus from the Odyssey. There was even a visit to an island with a magician. Everything was copacetic. Then things stopped being copacetic. We have not had an ordeal of visiting the underworld, we haven’t reaped the hard gained rewards from that ordeal – we’re dropping the ball. I propose that we adopt a mission statement: “Homericness.” To live up to that mission statement, I suggest that we tie Princess to the mast while we pass through sirens singing beautiful songs that lead to our death if we hear them. All those in favor?
Christine (cow safety officer): While I understand you’d really like to do this, it would involve at least fifteen different violations of Hedgehog Adventurer Maritime Code Section VIII.
Jane: Also, a single word is not a mission statement.
Boris: Well, could we turn the boat around and be forced to choose either all dying in a whirlpool, or passing under a cliff-dwelling beast that will grab and eat a few of us at random?
Jane: Absolutely not.
Boris: Since the rules prohibit tying hedgehogs to masts, and the random death by cliff-beast suggestion was a non-starter, I propose a new mission statement: “Gilgameshness.”  We shall pick up the narrative themes of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Princess will battle an ogre named Humbaba.

troll
(Everyone else at same time): No.
Jane: Also, a single word is not a mission statement.
Boris: Deadly toucans?
(Everyone else at same time): No.
Boris: We’re doing it all wrong, you guys… All wrong. I guess we should get back to preparing to debark since we’re at the island. I fear we’re going to be way past our standard word count at this point, especially with all that’s needed to complete this epic.

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They looked out at the island. It looked remarkably similar to the other islands they’d visited in some ways, other than the inhabitants. They were somewhat interested, yet troubled, due to those inhabitants, and a little tired of islands, longing for living rooms, castles, farms, and other places that weren’t islands.

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They debarked. A rooster approached.
Rooster: Greetings to you, eh. It appears that we finally have adventurers worthy of the Gem of Destiny. Tell me adventurers, what are your names, eh?
Jane: What?
Franklin: Can anyone understand what he’s saying?
Boris: It’s ok, he’s speaking Canadian. I’ll translate, “Greetings to you. It appears that we finally have adventurers worthy of the Gem of Destiny. Tell me adventurers, what are your names?”
Princess: Oh, well I am Princess Penelope Pricklepants. I have a lovely and extensive title, but we can save that for later. These are my loyal friends who joined me on our quest. Perhaps we could skip listing everyone’s names for now, though?
Rooster: All’s copacetic then, eh.
Boris: He says that’s fine.
Jane: We should give him the bottles. We’re supposed to give him a gift.

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Princess: O noble rooster who has not yet shared his name, we offer to you these bottles of a fluid we assume to be wonderful as a gift.
Rooster: Thanks, eh. Well, we have a tradition here of giving a gift when one is received. Here.
(handing over gem of destiny)

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Princess: Odd, I thought it was red for some reason…
Rooster: Oh, the color changes.  Here’s an instruction manual, eh.  The Gem is pretty easy to use, and can be of great benefit to many if held in the paws of a worthy hedgehog.
Boris: No! We are not ending things like this!
Princess: What’s the matter Boris? We should be happy – we completed our quest. It would be delightful to return home and no longer live in close quarters with one another on a ship, we can all get back to my house and have a delightful tea party.  I could wear my favorite hat.
Boris: This is just what I’m talking about – this is no ending, this is a bolted on non-denouement with no dramatic tension and resolution, doesn’t even deal with the question of what the gem of destiny is for. Gratuitous monkey thrown in for no reason. No pirate theming. No fulfillment of the heroic quest. It’s a travesty! An outrage! I thought I was in some kind of existential nightmare, but I see this is far worse. This is postmodern! But being trapped in a postmodern work is an existential torture, so it’s even worse.
Jane (still in a poor mood from the long journey, and having not had a proper cup of tea in ages): Boris, let me offer you this sign from the universe – her death-facing trial was having to listen to you.
Boris (mumbling): That’s not even how the universe works.
Princess: Well Mr. Rooster, thank you so much for the gem, we appreciate it, and really want to get home, so bye.
Rooster: Say, could you give us a lift back to civilization, eh? I think we’re done, and it’d be nice to just live on a farm. Since the first days our ancestors have passed on a tradition of explaining how it’s not all that nice, and it’s much nicer on the mainland, eh. This isn’t even a cool island where there are toucans, and cool birds (besides chickens), or waterfalls.
Boris: I refuse to translate. This is killing me. Also, toucans aren’t cool birds.
Jane: I think he said they want to come back on our ship… Mr. Rooster, peck once if this is correct, twice if this is incorrect.
(one peck)
Jane: The monkey too?
(one peck)
Jane: You’re sure about the monkey?
(one peck)
Princess: Of course we can take you all (including the monkey) back to our vaguely-defined country/place of residence, it would be a pleasure.

They packed up, boarded, and most sighed with relief that they were done except for the trip home.

The sense of relief was very short lived.

The sigh of relief was very short lived.

Stay tuned for our post-ultimate finale episode: Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: The Long and Tedious Ship Ride Back (working title). Will they resort to fisticuffs? Will Boris come to terms with his crisis of existing in an existential post-modern drama? Will we just skip that episode and call this the final finale? Will the author ever learn the meaning of the words “first” and “last?” These and other questions may be answered at some point in the future when the next blog post appears.

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Boris: I’m going to write a haiku about how unbearable it is to be on a ship laden with chickens.
Jane: Of course you will. Hey, what do you call bears with no ears?
Boris: What?
Jane: B

Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: The Island of Mystery, Except Really This Time


Dear reader,

Happily, we’re really on a roll with getting back into the swing of infrequent posts, but as is our way, we have a few items to go over that are significant in some way.

We were thinking of mentioning the search for “comfortably annoyed” that brought some person with very mysterious emotions to our humble blog, and also mention the sudden onslaught of people searching for “imlovlinlit princess penelope answer key” (looks like school’s back in session), but then thought better of it, so we won’t mention those.

For our semi-first item of note, we wanted to mention that Quentin emailed in asking about where to find the imlovlinlit princess penelope answer key, though Quentin really wanted to know about when our next post was.  It’s now,Quentin.  We hope you’re comfortably annoyed.

For our very first item of note, for those souls who stumble on this, here are the previous roughly four-ish episodes:

For our ultimate first item of note, the observant reader might have noticed that we titled ourselves into a bit of a corner, so we’re just doing what we can with this title, and apologize to any titular purists who might be comfortably annoyed with our choices in this domain.

And with that brief preamble, on to our first picture with words under it.

tisland (1)

They arrived at the island.  There, they saw a few birds, which wasn’t really what they’d been expecting, helping the island to live up to its name.  It looked oddly familiar somehow.

Boris was agitated, “Maybe we should have a meeting instead of debarking? Did I mention I have a chronic fear of birds that aren’t chickens?  Chickens, cool.  Owls, ducks, the kind of things.  Terror.  In nature, bears and birds are natural enemies.  You should see the things those terrible sparrows say.”

Princess assured him “We’ll protect you from the scary birds and their scary bird words.”

Boris pouted.

The birds suddenly flew off, except the chickens.

“There we go, problem solved.”

Boris was still apprehensive, “Well, maybe we should have a meeting about this meeting, and then a post-mortem meeting to go over the meeting?  Perhaps a planning meeting for the post-mortem…”

“Now is the time to act,” said Princess with gravitas.

“How about if our action is to call for a delay. Let’s discuss how this meeting is going. I think it’s a bit too brief.”

“Now is the time to act in a way that isn’t calling for a delay or discussing the meeting.  It’s time to debark,” said Princess with gravitas.

They debarked with some trepidation onto the Island of Mystery.

Debarking

After they debarked, a mysterious figure appeared with a puff of smoke and a flash (not pictured).  The figure took a dramatic pose.

Mathematician

“Greetings, o strangers recently debarked from a boat from a far off land, I am Marvin the Marvelous Magical Mathematician.  What is your name?”

[Author’s note: dear readers, you may have noticed the use of the term “debark” cropping up more than might have been expected in normal usage.  We apologize for the over-use of the term debark and will attempt to reduce our use of the term now that they’ve debarked.  We just really like the word debark.]

“Hello, I am Princess Penelope Pricklepants, Grand Duchess of Tiggy-Winkle, Defender of Hufflepuff, Empress of Quillonia, and Dominions beyond the Seas.”

“Greetings Princess Penelope Pricklepants, etc. What is your quest?”

“To find the Gem of Destiny hidden by Captain Quillbeard.”

“Wonderful!  We have puzzles and riddles, conundrums, enigmas, and oh so very many brain teasers here.  If you can answer me these questions three, you will solve the mystery, and gain the final clue to finding to the Gem of Destiny.  Our questions are wonderful brain teasers – mathematical word problems, riddles, logic puzzles, that kind of thing.”

There was a soft groaning that came from the adventurers.

Boris said, “My brain really prefers to not be teased.  Also the meter on that little rhyme was terrible.”

“Well I’m not a poet, I’m a Marvelous Magical Mathematician. Now, you might have noticed these two chickens.  One always lies, the other always tells the truth.”

There was groaning of a less soft variety that came from the adventurers.

“Now, nobody on our island knows the color of their eyes.”

There were comfortably annoyed murmurs emerging from several of the adventurers.

“Also, one of the chicken’s last names has a Z in it, and at least one has a B in it, and one has no vowels.”

There were angry grumblings emerging from several of the adventurers.

“Now here is your first puzzle.”

Boris blurted out, “Did I mention I have a chronic allergy to mathematicians and logic?  I am suddenly feeling my ailment coming on. I think I need to just go off somewhere that’s not here to convalesce.”  He left.

Marvin continued, “You are a chicken farmer going to a market on the other side of a river.  You have one chicken, one bag of seed, and one fox. If left alone, the fox will eat the chicken, and the chicken will eat the seed. You have a boat that holds you and one passenger and must cross a river.  How do you get across and on to the market taking passengers across one at a time without the seed or chicken being eaten?”

Princess answered, “I take the chicken across first.  The fox will leave the seed alone.  Then I take the seed across.  Then I leave.  I’m a chicken farmer.  I hate foxes. I certainly wouldn’t take one with me, I’d get rid of it as fast as possible.”

“Oh, hmm, I guess that is sort of logical, but that’s not the answer.  Yet, since it was sort of an answer, we’ll say that one won’t count, and you’ll have to answer another question.”

Jane said, “You know, suddenly I’m feeling a bit ill too, I’ll just pop off for a moment to breathe.”

Princess said, “Would you please excuse us, Marvin, we must have a word.”

Meeting

They held a provisional Quillbeard Quest meeting.

Boris said, “You know how I always say violence is not the answer?”

“No.”

“Right, I never say that, lets get the catapult.  You know those bottles that were supposed to be important to the adventure? We should fling those at the Math beast.  Excelsior!”

Jane was concerned, “No, that’s just not right.  They’re too soft.  We should find rocks.  Does RedBot have any lasers?”

Princess said firmly, “No, violence is not the polite way to deal with this.”

“Well, if we have to answer these horrible puzzles, our quest is probably doomed.”

Franklin called down from the crow’s nest of the ship, “Perhaps you could let me answer them?  I have a math degree.”

They agreed that this sounded like a plan.  They let Franklin down.

Boris said, “I’ll bring the bottles.”

Skunk

They returned to Marvin.

“Oh, so, you, um, have a… skunk…”

Boris said, “Why yes, yes we do.  And I also have this set of bottles.  They are full of skunk juice.  Give us the clue or there will be smell to pay.”

Marvin said, “Would you really unleash that stench?”

“Yes.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes.”

“Congratulations!  You’ve correctly answered three questions.  And here is the final clue.” There was a flash and a puff of smoke (not pictured) and an owl appeared.

Bubo (1)

“This is Bubo the owl.  Bubo has the power to lead you through to Treasure Island where Quillbeard hid the Gem of Destiny.  The island is protected by a illusory field that makes it look like open sea, but Bubo can see through it.  He will lead you to the Island of Henakau.  There are some things you should know about Henakau.  The Island is populated by the former crew of Captain Quillbeard, so the island is peopled by pirate chickens and cows.  They speak Canadian, so you may need a translator.”

Boris said, “Don’t worry, I speak Canadian, eh.”

“Excellent.  Now when you find the island, make sure to offer them a gift, it’s a tradition there.  If they accept it then you must tell them you’re on the Quest, and then, well, things should work out probably. Now off you go, and take the skunk and those bottles.”

And so they embarked and headed off to Henakau with their new owl guide, relieved that they didn’t have to solve any logic puzzles or math word problems.

Will they find the Gem of Destiny in the next episode and finally be free to pursue other things?  Will the hedgehog start start sitting still when we’re taking pictures?  Will she stop crawling under sets knocking everything over?  These and other questions may or may not be answered in our next episode, Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: the Gem of Destiny (Or Something Like That, Depending on What We Decide To Name It).

Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: Mystery Island


Dear reader,

Happily, we’re back from a brief vacation and back into the swing of infrequent posts. We have a few items to go over that are significant in some way.

First, we are delighted to mention that we have a few search terms that are bringing multiple people in from google: “hedgehog fist,” and “princess filler.”  We clearly are making the web a better place.

Also first, for people who stumble on this, here are the previous four episodes:

Secondly, you might have noticed that this particular adventure has been dragging on for far more episodes than any previous one.  We apologize, and will work to resolve all the conflicts, and wrap things up in a nice neat conclusion as quickly as we can.

Also secondly, an alert reader might notice that the extended time on the surprisingly small ship together is beginning to cause some tension among the crew.

As a final secondly you might have noticed that we aren’t sure what “first” and “secondly” actually mean.

And with that, peregrinate with me as we offer our first picture with words under it.

meeting

Another day, another daily Quillbeard Quest meeting.

Boris was excited, he had several items for the meeting, “Okay, eh, item one, epithets.  I think we all need epithets. It’s fitting for participants in an epic, and at this point things have been dragging so long on this accursed boat that this is clearly an epic.  I shall be Boris the Awesome. Jane will be Jane the demanding. Christine will be Christine the safety obsessed. Bessie will be Bessie the generic. Franklin will be Franklin the marginalized due to smelliness. Moonflower will be Moonflower the grass aficionado.  And Redbot will be Redbot the one who doesn’t need an epithet but has one anyway.”

“Um, no,” said everyone else emphatically.

Boris the Awesome continued, “So glad we’re all onboard. Now onto my item two – catchphrases.  We each need a catchphrase we regularly say that is a trademark of our persona.  Mine will be ‘excelsior!’  Amusing, inspiring, clever, and sophisticated, much like me.”

“That sounds a little, um, off, so, maybe…”

“Excelsior!”

excelsior

Jane was annoyed, “Why, Boris?  Why would you say that?  That doesn’t even make sense!”

“So, I think Jane’s catchphrase should be ‘You see, I told you!’  And Bessie’s will be, ‘Fine, whatever.’  Princess should have something cool like, ‘Sounds like a fine time for a cup of tea,’ Redbot will say, ‘Beep-Boop-Beep,’ Christine will say, ‘That’s dangerous,’ Moonflower will say, ‘Groovy’ and Franklin won’t really say much since he’s quarantined in the crow’s nest where he belongs. It’s perfect.  Be sure to use them.”

Franklin called down, “I can hear you, you know!”

(Hi, author’s note here, since as an omniscient narrator we were able to see just what Boris was thinking when he came up with this, we offer this helpful illustration)

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(Hello, additional author’s note, Boris has a somewhat peculiar imagination which the properties of this image reflect. It is important to note that this image doesn’t really indicate a lack in the author’s Photoshop skills, and that Captain Quillbeard wasn’t just thrown in to fill in a blank space, but was part of Boris’ planned monologue that he forgot to mention.)

Jane said, “No catchphrases.  It will devolve into something annoying.”

“Excelsior!”

“You see, I told you!”

Boris giggled, “Maybe Jane’s could be, ‘Okay, you’ve had your fun, let’s get back to business.'”

Jane worked very hard not to inadvertently use this catchphrase.  “Okay, you’ve been entertaining yourself, but there are important things to discuss.  Item three – We are approaching Mystery Island.”

Moonflower was excited, “Mister Island!  Groovy!”

Jane cut in, “Look, these epithets, these catchphrases, they are simply… wrong… I move that we never surrender to this frivolousness.  We are approaching the island, though.  We need to prepare.  Let’s just end this meeting and get ready.”

Boris was pleased, “Maybe, Jane the pushy would be a better epithet.  Or Jane the demanding.  Or Jane the control freak.”

Jane the control freak became increasingly annoyed.  “You see, I told you! You’ve had your fun, let’s get back to business. No epithets! No catch phrases. Isn’t there some Hedgehog Adventurer Maritime Code regulation against catch phrases?  If there isn’t there should be. “

Princess Pricklepants was concerned, “I don’t think that if we use epithets we should use any that are impolite.  Perhaps Boris the Bear, Jane the Cow Accountant, Moonflower the one who doesn’t have an epithet, and Redbot the one who doesn’t need an epithet but has one anyway would do?”

It was generally agreed by most, excluding Boris, that this would probably work, and given the grand island adventure approaching it was time to engage in adventure-preparation related activities.

While they went off to do their activities, Boris took Moonflower aside.

the_plan

“Okay, now is your time to shine, eh. We all need you to be a wise counsel to Princess Penelope on her heroic journey. Take her aside, and say some things to help her prepare mentally for the challenges ahead. Say things that sound profound when you first hear them, even if they don’t hold up to a lot of scrutiny. Something like, ‘Wherever you go, there you are’ would be superb!”

Princess was tired of the ship.  She thought back to the wonderful times she had in her lovely home, the pie (all eaten by Boris), the cookies (all eaten by Boris), the tea, the cheese.

cheese_platter

 A voice called out, “Hey, like, Princess.”  The delightful recollection of happy times ended.

groovy

“Yes, o Moonflower the delightful and kind?” (Princess was trying out epithets despite Jane’s concerns.)

“So, you’re going to be on an adventure soon.”

“I think we’re already on one, aren’t we?”

“Well, I have some words of wisdom to offer – wherever you are, you’re already there.”

“Yes, yes, I suppose that’s true.”

“Your mind is like a book.  It’s better for it to be open.”

“Oh, but wouldn’t it be hard to keep books on shelves if they were all open?”

“Yeah, that’s kind of weird, maybe we should close our books and open our minds?  Oh, also do unto others or do not, there is no try.”

“Well, I’m afraid that I have to get going to do some important work, thanks for our little chat, perhaps we could talk more soon after I’ve finished?  Since you don’t have anything to do, sounds like a fine time for a cup of tea.”

Boris the Bear was moderately pleased.  The plan wasn’t exactly falling into place perfectly, but it was pretty much kind of working, and things could only get better. He said, “Excelsior!” to nobody in particular.

They approached the island. It was indeed a bit of a mystery.

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The greatest mystery was how we got to a thousand words (our standard cutoff) without actually reaching the Island which was the whole point. Also, why all the birds? Why is the sky still wrinkled? Was the author lying when they said that this was going to be wrapped up quickly? These and many other mysteries might be answered in our next episode: Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: Mystery Island Again.

Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: The Picky Princess


Dear readers,

We have a few items of note to address before this, our next episode of Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder.

For people who stumble on this, here are the previous three episodes:

First off, sorry if we scared any of you with the brief Princess Evilpants interlude.  There was a brief accident involving a malfunction when transporting her from the Huffledome, but things have been sorted out. Princess Evilpants was from a Mysterious Mirror Universe, but the technical glitch was sorted out and our polite Princess has returned.

Second off, we haven’t got a second item, so this is just pointless rambling.  Please just skip this sentence and the previous one so we can move forward without getting bogged down in a pointless digression that just wastes words and adds nothing of note.

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

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Princess Pricklepants was moderately displeased.  The last few elections had all nominated her to serve as night watch on the ship.  Democracy sometimes didn’t really seem very polite.  This shift was particularly difficult since she had only gotten ten hours of sleep during the day, so she was somewhat tired.

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Very tired, really.  So tired that she drifted into sleep and dreamt a peculiar dream full of mysterious symbolism very relevant to the story even if it’s maybe a little overt.

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Princess Pricklepants was concerned.  (She was also oddly sleepy for being in a dream where she was awake). She knew she was a princess, and she therefore merited wearing a crown or tiara or other princess-related regalia for her head, and that it was her quest to find this. The hand servants offered to her a crown of paper, but it was not good enough for the very picky princess. She huffed and pouted at the affront of it all. A mysterious beaver-like voice with a mildly Canadian but more overtly pirate-like accent spookily said, “Paper is how the journey begins, but beyond it there is more to win.”

Princess was puzzled, “The journey started with a boat, and the boat is not paper.  Also, why the rhyme?”

“I’m rhyming for dramatic effect.  Come on.  Also, not, paper, you know, like the map.”

“Oh. I suppose that makes sense.”

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She went to look for another more suitable crown under the table.  A different mysterious voice, that of the mysterious narrator we try not to bring up said, “dang.”

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She found a chenille crown, and the hand servants placed it on her head (and also cleaned up the table a bit).  This crown too was completely unfitting a hedgehog of her nobility and regal stature.  It was sparkly, which was better, but it was still altogether wrong.  The mysterious pirate voice spoke again, “Chenille, arr, I don’t even know what that be, yet I be sure it’s symbolic of something, though.  Maybe gaining the bottles of mystery or some such.”

Princess said, “I’ll take your word for it. I’ll keep looking.”

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She searched under the couch to see what other crowns might be found and caused even more damage to the set, much to the dismay of the narrator.

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The next crown was nicer than the first two, and she rather liked it, but it wasn’t properly speaking a crown. It was a cap. The mysterious pirate voice spoke once more, “Wait, what be this? I have no idea what’s going on here.”

Princess said, “Isn’t is great?  I like this cap.”

The mysterious voice spoke, “Arr, keep to looking, and try not to get distracted, matey.  Oh, perhaps this symbolizes the dangers of being distracted on the quest for the Gem of Destiny. Just a guess.”

She decided to save the nice cap, but to continue looking. After some further digging in her surroundings a much nicer crown was found.

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The crown was nice, but heavy was the crown that sat on her head.

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It was so heavy it fell off repeatedly which was rather irritating to the narrator (who was also the photographer).

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The hand servants offered their help, but their assistance seemed to stick out too much for proper regalia, and this solution didn’t see at all suitable for such a noble hedgehog.

The mysterious pirate voice spoke to her, “The heavy crown will weigh you down, but will be sparkly all around town.  Sorry, just making up a rhyme there. I think this is symbolic of trials yet to come on the Island of Mystery.”

Princess replied, “I guess that sounds like a plausible explanation.  What is the Island of Mystery?”

The mysterious voice replied in a slightly spooky and mysterious way, “It’s a slightly spooky and mysterious mystery yet to be spoken of.”

Princess was frustrated with this, “mysterious mystery” – what kind of diction was that?  Yet she realized that the mysterious pirate voice was not really always polite, helpful, or even grammatically correct, so that was all she was likely to get. She sought again for a crown suited to a hedgehog of her bearing that was perhaps a bit lighter and more comfortable to wear.

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With a bit more searching around, she ruined the set once more, but discovered something wonderful, and was very pleased.

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The hand servants set upon her head the final crown, and it was really quite nice.  She was delighted, so delighted that she tipped the crown at a jaunty angle which to hedgehogs is symbolic of really liking having things that are set upon them.

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She was very pleased, and felt happy that she would no longer need to keep looking, since she knew she had found what she had needed.

The voice pirate spoke once more, “As the suitable crown is discovered, so too will the Gem be found, with peace and merriment all around.  Remember these things.  By the way, I was really trying to think of a nice rhyme for this bit, but they’re tricky, and I’m not really a poet.”

Princess replied, “So should I be digging under couches and tables, then?”

The mysterious voice seemed irritated and not particularly polite.  “No, seriously, the dream is a metaphor for the search for the Gem of Destiny.  Your quest will involve searching but not by literally climbing under furniture, please try to keep up.  I’m not sure everyone is all that pleased by you climbing under everything.”

“Oh, well that’s a shame, there’s little more delightful than climbing under tables and couches.”

“Sorry, eh. And sorry if I was a bit impolite, it’s been really frustrating waiting all these years for someone worthy of the great quest for the Gem of Destiny.”

“Oh, it’s okay, pirate ghost voices aren’t expected to have the best manners. I have a helpful guide to manners if you’d like to read it. In the future, if you do these dream thingies again, do you think you could skip putting heavy things on my head though?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry about that too, eh. It looked lighter than it was. Your pickiness has served you well. Now waken.”

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Princess woke up and looked around.  The stars in the night sky were lovely. It was a very strange dream, with a very annoyingly heavy crown, and she wished there would have been more digging under furniture, since that was such a delightful thing, but in all seemed like a helpful interlude on their adventure somehow. She remembered the mysterious pirate voice, and knew her quest was making progress.  Soon there would be an Island of Mystery with some new trial.

Will they finally find Captain Quillbeard’s mysterious treasure? Will we sort out a better way to make something island-like? What exactly is this mystery of Mystery Island?  Is this thing going to wind up being like eight posts long before we can finally finish?  These and other questions may be answered in our next episode, Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: Mystery Island (or something similar).

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


Dear readers,

Thanks for your patience while we were off enjoying our trip to Rome not taking pictures of our hedgehog or writing stories about her adventures.  While we were away we received several pieces of correspondence.

First our mom says hi.  Hi mom!

Second, an oddly irritable reader, Ryan, wrote in to complain that we were ruining the Internet by writing about something so trivial as our pet.  It was his contention that by doing this we were contributing to the problem of unseriousness.  Dear Ryan, we fully admit to this.  We are definitely part of the problem of unseriousness and apologize for ruining the Internet.

Thirdly, Quentin wrote in to ask where he left his keys.  Try looking in the basket by the door under the things you let pile up in there.  Otherwise, check under the couch cushions.

Fourth, this blog post contains some scenes that may be disturbing to people who are upset by violent imagery involving cyclops art models being attacked by sharks.  For readers who are sensitive to this sort of thing, avert your gaze once you spot this part.

And with that, we begin our story.  Princess Pricklepants and her plucky peers piled upon the ship and set sail for adventure.  Princess put on her pirate hat to properly prepare for their plucky pirate plunder pursuit.  She was slightly put off by the photo following the first bit of narrative instead of being the other way, but was excited enough at the journey beginning that she gave it a pass.

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Boris was puzzled.  “Princess, so, um, I notice you’re dressed as a pirate.”

“Aye, and a fine pirate, indeed.  Arr.  Hey Boris, what’s a cannibal Pirate’s favorite lunch?”

“What?”

“A bacon, lettuce, and two-matey sandwich.”

“Lovely.  To the point, we’re looking for pirate treasure, but we are in fact not pirates.”

“Shiver me timbers, you’re right! So what has two eyes, two hands, two legs, and two belly buttons?”

“What?”

“Two pirates!”

“Yes, so as it turns out, dressing up as a pirate might cause others to think that we are pirates.  That would be bad, as people would be likely to do something unfriendly to us if they thought we were pirates.”

“Arr, we wouldn’t want to hornswoggle any land lubbers, that would be impolite indeed.  What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?”

“Look, this is not the time for pirate riddles.  Would you mind not dressing like a pirate as we travel the high seas?  Also, it’s R.”

“Fine, then, I’ll not dress up as a pirate.  By the way, while you might think a pirate’s favorite letter is R, it’s really the C.”

Boris wished that bears were able to roll their eyes.  He ignored her and wandered off to finish eating the last of the pie.

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Boris returned a few minutes later.

“Um, Princess?”

“Yes?”

“I notice you’re still dressed as a pirate.”

“Well, no.  Now I’m dressed as hedgehog royalty playing dress-up as a pirate.”

“That still counts as being dressed as a pirate.”

“But it’s really very different, actually, isn’t it?”

“Hey, look over there, the Universe!”

“Where?”

Boris grabbed her hat and tossed it overboard.

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Several sharks enjoyed eating the hat.  They thanked Princess for the lovely treat and mentioned that they’d be happy to offer more help so long as that help happened to involve eating other things – they were huge fans of eating things.

The trip to Henakau by ship was a very long one, so they played Scrabble, researched more about Captain Quillbeard, and sat around doing various things while the robotic helpers piloted the ship. Boris mentioned that the narrative structure seemed to be coming along better than he’d expected and droned on about possible tropes that they might incorporate into the story. Nobody listened to him, not even the narrator, so we can’t offer any quotes. Princess told pirate jokes, since when sailing this is a very polite thing to do.

“Hey Jane, did you hear about the pirate who got his left side cut off?”

“No, but I expect you’re going to tell me all about it.”

“He’s alright.”

Boris said, “I wish there was a way for the Universe to fling your pirate jokes into the sea.”

Princess replied, “What do you call a thousand pirates secretly meeting? Avast conspiracy!”

After sailing for a long time, which felt even longer to many members of the crew due to the onslaught of pirate jokes and bears talking about literary criticism in their personal lives, they approached an island that seemed like a good place to take on more fresh water and perhaps find some supplies. They prepared the ramp and piled off the ship to look around.

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After looking around a bit they decided to name the island “Skull Island” after the mysterious fortress that had a subtle skull-like shape about it. They were wonderfully delighted to find that Skull Island had a number of fresh baked pies, particularly Boris.

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“I think we should take as many pies as possible on board,” said Boris, “Ideally we should take several more than is possible.”

“But these pies must belong to someone, surely someone must have made them.  I’d be upset if someone took my pies,” said Princess.  “They’re lovely, and must have been a lot of work for someone to make.  It wouldn’t be polite to take them without asking.”

“Well, perhaps these pies grew on an unusual tree native to this island?  Or perhaps they were made as gifts to us from the Universe?  Perhaps as part of the Universe we should take our pies?”

“Maybe, but those all feel like iffy excuses for taking pies that don’t belong to us.”

“Perhaps I could just eat all the pies now?  I have an idea.  Universe (or pie owner, whoever you may be), if you agree to let us take the pies, send us a sign by not doing anything of note.”

They waited.  Nothing of note happened.

“Okay, I guess we can take a few onboard, then.”

They began to prepare to load the pies.

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As they prepared to load the pies onto the ship, an angry cyclops baker appeared.

“Who dares to trespass on my island and steal my pie?!  I, Artopius, king of the bakers of Baker Island, disdainfully criticize you!”

Jane, the cow accountant said, “So, wait, which island is Baker Island?”

“This is Baker Island.”

“No, this is Skull Island.”

“No, it’s Baker Island.”

“No, but the fort looks like a skull, so it’s Skull Island.”

“No, that’s Baker Fort, since it looks like a thing named Baker Fort.”

Jane and the cyclops argued about the name of the island for a long time, though you need not hear all the details.  Eventually they resolved to agree to disagree, and moved to the Cyclops angrily decrying the pie theft.

Boris explained, “We weren’t trying to steal them, we thought the Universe was giving them to us.  It even agreed.”

“Thieves!  You will suffer for your pie crimes!”

“Please, we aren’t pie criminals, we’re a noble hedgehog, a literary bear, a cow accountant, a sheep who hasn’t said much recently, a generic cow (who can program robots), and a helper robot on a quest.  Our quest is quite important, we’re seeking the treasure of…”

Jane interrupted, “Maybe we don’t need to explain all the specifics at this point?”

Artopius was tired of conversations and generally grouchy.  “I challenge one of you to a rap battle.  If you win, you can take three pies and leave.  If I win, I’ll eat you.”

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In retrospect, they probably should have selected a different rapper from their party than Princess Pricklepants, since she insisted on rapping politely.  The rap battle went extremely poorly.

Artopius imprisoned them in Baker Skull Fort and announced, “My friends, soon I will eat you one by one.  That hedgehog looks particularly plump and delicious.”

Princess noticed that Moonflower wasn’t really exactly imprisoned.  She whispered down to Moonflower, “Moonflower, since you’re not trapped, you should open the cow door, let Bessie free, then let her reprogram Redbot to save us all.”

“I am trapped, though. I’m a prisoner in a world sized jail!”

Clearly they needed an alternate plan.

Princess called out, “Alas, what shall we do?!”

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Dear readers, you may remember our previous warning to those who are sensitive or upset by violent imagery involving cyclops art models being attacked by sharks.  Just above this paragraph you’ll find the upsetting image, so please avert your gaze if you need to.

Their shark friends heard Princess’ plaintive plea, and due to an interesting coincidence, the phrase “Alas, what shall we do,” also happens to mean “free fresh delicious Cyclops ready for the eating” in Shark language.  The sharks pulled the cyclops into the sea.  Oddly, the cyclops disappeared once he was pulled into the sea, making the sharks very sad.  The pies did not disappear, making Boris very happy.

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With their island adventure complete, they loaded their pies onboard and got back underway.  Princess said, “Thanks Mr. Shark!”  And with that we end Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: Part II – The Great Middle Begins.

Will they encounter another island and have a similar adventure?  Will the disappearing cyclops be explained?  Will we figure out some way to make a different island-related set?  Will they continue to mangle the plot of the Odyssey with pirate treasure thrown in?  Will the chickens we ordered finally show up?  This and other questions may be answered in our next episode: Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: Part III – The Great Middle of the Middle (or some similar title).

No art models were harmed in the creation of this story.

On a separate note, Artopius is the Latinized form of the Greek word for baker, in case you were wondering.

Princess Pricklepants, and the Brief Hiatus


We’re on vacation for a little while, will be back in a couple weeks.  Her robo-friends will miss her, and she will miss her loyal servants.

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Here is a small, somewhat confusing preview of what’s to come in Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder Part II – The Great Middle:

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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:

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Princess Pricklepants, Startup Founder Extraordinaire


Previously: Princess Pricklepants, Entrepreneur

Dear reader, for our preamble we’d like to say a number of fascinating, witty, clever, and delightful things, but we can’t think of any.  Sorry.

A reader contacted us indirectly with a really brilliant idea that we can’t tell you about.  Also, sorry.

Quentin emailed in to say something, but we haven’t read that email yet.  We’ll do that really soon, though.

Our awesome and brilliant reader Mike sent in this superb graphic, which you should all admire, and which we plan to develop into a theme once Princess runs for President, which now must happen.

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On a separate note, we found someone reached our blog via a search for “when adventure trip on a ship. how can we do good manner.”  Cool!

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

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Princess Pricklepants gathered the council of cows et al. to pitch her latest idea in the living room.  Startups were supposed to be in garages, but she didn’t have a garage, so the living room would have to do.  “Princess Pricklepants-pedia – an online encyclopedia of all things related to me.”  Jane, the cow accountant and general downer, explained that this sounded like a really fun idea, but had the problem that there was no way to possibly ever make money.

“Well, what about a blog?”

“You’ve got a blog, and so far you’ve lost money.  Your blog is free so you don’t even get anything from the ads other people see.  It’s just a vanity project.”

“Mugs and Tee-shirts?”

“No”

Princess turned to google “polite web startup ideas,” but the first result was an article titled, “Polite, Purposeful People Create Startups That Fail.”  Clearly google was confused.

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Christine, the cow safety officer, had a warning, “Since we’re starting a business we should use Robert’s Rules of Order and keep minutes so that we have accountability.”

Boris made a motion, “I propose that we never ever use Robert’s Rules of Order.  All those in favor?”

The ayes had it.

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Boris stepped forth with a daring plan, “We start a comparative mythology as a service company.  We create a platform for employees on their mythic and heroic quests.”

This was not well accepted.

Princess pitched another idea, “MaPaaS, Manners and Politeness as a Service, we architect a dynamic cloud platform for delivering the infrastructure of manners, refinement, sophistication, and politeness to the enterprise.  We’ll target mobile advice.  Also, synergy.”

Nobody could think of an objection, or if they had one they couldn’t find a polite way to say it (since the software didn’t exist yet), so they started their plan.

Their plan had three parts.

1) Develop dynamic MaPaaS cloud platform.

2) …

3) Profit.

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Boris said, “Oh, we also need to name the business, this is an important part of the heroic  journey.”

Jane suggested, “Politetronic Logistics”

“No”

“Manner Cloud”

“No”

“Telstar Etiquettronics”

“Yes!”

They googled it to make sure nobody had already taken the name.  Clear.  They still needed to register telstaretiquettronics.com, but would get to that soon.

Boris said, “Princess, there’s an important point I think I need to make.  If we look at this situation in terms of a literary structure, there’s no antagonist, nor are we following a traditional comic form of three separate minor conflicts that intertwine until they are resolved in a denouement.”

Princess explained, “Boris, we aren’t in some fictional universe, we’re real hedgehogs and cows and bears doing work things.  Real life isn’t like fiction, there aren’t usually antagonists or neat little situations that get wrapped up nicely.  It’s just you and your friends and family and coworkers doing your things as best you can, and trying to not waste all your time watching amazing hedgehog videos on YouTube or reading wikipedia articles when you should be getting important things done.”

She then checked wikipedia to make sure this was correct and wound up reading about grizzly bears for a while, then salmon, then the Yukon river.  Then she watched an amazing hedgehog video.  Then she visited boingboing.net.

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Eventually they got to working on part 1 of their plan.

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Part 1 was the fun and annoying part, since it meant they’d need to make a program.  They turned to Bessie, the generic cow, who was also a robotics programmer.  “Bessie, can you write the software tonight?”

“Um, well, you see, I, uh, write C for embedded systems, and for web things it’s all completely different.  We need to hire someone or learn these things.”

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Princess hit the books.  It was so boring, though.  All those letters and words that didn’t quite mean the right thing, and the jargon, that odd almost, but not quite English jargon.  Even with a montage this would be unbearable.  So they decided to find a programmer.

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While Mufiki, King of the Planet of the Baboons, might not have seemed like an immediately obvious choice, he had previous experience as a software engineer for a web company in the dot com days.  He was interested and would take low pay in exchange for equity.  Soon he had something running.  We’ll spare you the boring details of a code monkey.  He also wrote a module to measure how polite or impolite something was that was named polite-o-tron2000 that applied machine learning with vectorized Bayesean analysis on natural language processing, text analysis, and computational linguistics on the works of Emily Post on a Hadoop cluster (this obviously was a Big Data problem) to assign a score from 1 to 10, where 1 is something we couldn’t possibly say, and 10 is something really, really polite and appropriate.  Sorry, had to throw in boring details.

The software would send text messages to Princess’s iPhone where she would respond with helpful advice.  They ran their first test, sending an etiquette request:

“when adventure trip on a ship. how can we do good manner.”

Princess texted her reply, “When taking an adventure trip on a ship, always be sure to share treasure maps with any cows that want to go on the adventure with you.”  It went through the internet tubes and showed up in their software thing where it was supposed to.  polite-o-tron2000 ranked it a 10.  They were cooking with gas!

Many other things happened, but they were dull business things that nobody in their right mind would ever want to read about, let alone suffer through in real life, so we’ll skip to the interesting part – getting funding from venture capitalists.

They showed up at Yoyodynamic Capital to pitch their business. They did a great presentation on how Telstar Ettiquettronics was the premiere MaPaaS business in the industry, with exponential potential for growth, and presented their highly relevant buzzword catch-phrase – immersive big data and well-mannered disruption of advice columns through the mobile cloud, and also social media.  Negotiations were tense, but they were ultimately funded with a lot of money to start a business in ways that were complicated to explain, but which Jane, the cow chief financial officer thought were workable.

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Yoyodynamic Capital even forgave Princess for climbing on the table.

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Thus they were probable tech millionaires.  Maybe.  All they had to do was make an actual company with customers, a long term manageable strategy, and a way to make a profit – easy.

Next episode: Will they buy a foosball table, fancy espresso machines, and nerf guns with their startup capital?  Will the Yoyodynamic dinosaurs betray the company?  Will the platform do the right platform-related things?  Will Princess become a tech millionaire?  Will this whole episode be explained away a few sentences in the next preamble?  Will they ever get a decent lighting setup so the color temperature and shadows aren’t all over the map?  These questions and others may or may not be answered in our next installment:

Princess Pricklepants and the Dinosaur Denouement

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 Visits the Creeping Horrors Of The Dystopian Authoritarian Planet of Nightmares


Brief post.

We tested the last two posts in https://iwl.me just to see what the wise robots of the Internet would say about our writing style.

Princess Pricklepants And The War Against Cats gives us:

I write like
George Orwell

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!


Princess Pricklepants, Farmer, etc. gives us:

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

The authors, actors, artists, propmaster, and other diligent workers regret to say that an Orwell/Lovecraft Hedgehog tale will be a little beyond our abilities at this time, and probably for the foreseeable future. Though if anyone has a hedgehog-scale Cthulu prop, some spare toy squid and octopuses, some Room 101 props, and art-model sized jackboots we’d probably give it a crack.

Since a post is incomplete without a photo, here’s Princess disliking sunflowers, or at least disliking hands pushing her into one (inadvertently)…

sunflower

Princess Pricklepants And The War Against Cats


Dear readers,

We have three apologies to make before this post.

First, some reader feedback – Quentin, a council of the cows was held, and no, we can’t use small words.  One cow politely recommended that you might want to buy a dictionary.

Second, sorry for creating a post so soon after the last two.  It was raining, we weren’t able to go out, and so another post happened.

Third, sorry that we don’t have one other thing to list in our apologies here, we’ve run dry a little early.

Fourth, sorry, that we’ve now apologized for one more thing that we’d originally said we would.

Now, our first picture with words under it:

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Princess Pricklepants was delighted, her trip to the Planet of the Baboons went nicely (she had helped Mufiki, the Baboon King to reclaim his throne from the evil uncle Blemish, perhaps more on that later if we get enough baboons to illustrate), and Mufiki, the Baboon King had returned with her to see her robo-farm to learn about new alien cultures and technology.  But when she arrived, things seemed amiss.  There was a castle.  There were no cows.  There was no bear.  The crocodiles were sitting in a moat, looking sad.

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A cat approached, and delivered a sinister monologue. “Greetings, Princess Pricklepants. I am Mittens, a humble farm-cat (with an Electrical Engineering degree from MIT – go Beavers!), and I have taken over this farm! You now are a former-hedgehog farmer, as I now control the farm! A-ha-ha-ha-ha! Using my advanced programming skills, I reprogrammed the robots to serve me to do my wily feline bidding. A previous advice column of yours had advised flinging cats via catapults, and now I have my revenge! Also, I banished your cows, forced the crocodiles to serve as slaves in the moat, and your literary bear friend is stuck in a paddock with no books to read! Bwa ha ha!” It was strange to hear a cat laugh. Regardless, the cat continued on for a while explaining how it accessed the reprogramming interface port of the robots, and some other details, but you don’t need to hear all of it. It was a very long monologue.

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Droidon and Galaxy came out and hugged the villainous cat since we had a photo of that. It was taken with the intent of adding to the drama and sense of just how sinister this cat was, though in retrospect, hugging cats doesn’t quite deliver the right mood. So, we ask you, dear reader, to please imagine that the photo illustrates the cat hacking up a hairball on your couch instead.  Thanks!

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Princess explained to Mufiki that nothing like this had ever happened before in her adventures, normally dramatic conflicts were far less overt, but given the situation they needed to form a plan. So they formed a plan.

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Princess went and found the cows. Together they formed The Cows Of The Round Table (the members were not all cows, but Cows, Baboon, and Hedgehog Of The Round Table just didn’t roll off the tongue). Together, they planned a great battle – a siege against Castle Mittens to defeat the wicked cat and bring justice and order back to the farm, then Princess granted them knighthoods authorizing them to serve in the battle. She looked up the wikipedia page on knighthood to see if they had the details of the ceremony, but it was missing most details, so she winged it.

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Princess ordered several catapults from hedgehogfarmsupply.com (some assembly required) and prepared for battle. They had only ever seen one movie that involved catapults, so they loaded the cows into the catapults and began to fling them onto the castle.  Christine, the cow safety officer, said something before they were loading her, but in the fog of war they were far too busy to get caught up in digressions.  Now was the time for action.

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Unfortunately, they didn’t have many cows, so soon they were out of ammunition. Lady Bessie (they weren’t sure of the right title for female knights, and Wikipedia didn’t mention what to honorifics to bestow on cows knights at all, so they settled on that), Sir Unintentional Product Placement, Princess, and Mufiki realized they needed another plan. Bessie lamented that while she was a generic cow, she did have a Computer Science degree and before joining the farm had worked as a contractor doing programming work for a few companies developing robotic Artificial Intelligence software. With that kind of nerdy desk-job skill set, she was useless for most things, especially in medieval conflict…

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“Don’t feel bad, Bessie, we still like you,” said Princess gracefully. Mufiki said, “Wait, didn’t the cat reprogram these robots? Can’t Bessie just hack into their robotic computing mainframe matrix, or whatever you Earthlings call it, and override the program?” They hatched a cunning plan.

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Princess lured Redbot out while Bessie snuck up and reprogrammed his loyalty circuits to bond to hedgehogs and not like cats.

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They then reprogrammed Galaxy, while Sir. Product Placement tried to distract Mittens.  That distraction worked poorly, so Princess licked her nose.

The ploy worked!

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And so, the farm returned to its former state, Princess was delighted, and things returned mostly to a normal state, though they now had a castle on the farm, an evil imprisoned cat, a pig had shown up from somewhere, the bear was freed and given some interesting books, the Spinosaurus returned to doing Spinosaurus things, and the word count was a little low but was good enough to declare The End.  For now.

Princess Pricklepants, Farmer, etc.


Dear readers, we’ve made a few small changes thanks to your feedback.  We’ve made images smaller and lower quality to load faster (you’re welcome, reader H), are using simpler vocabulary (you’re welcome reader Quentin), and we’ve added more characters to stories (can’t remember who mentioned that).  We also will digress less, since someone mentioned that digressions are distracting and don’t add to the narrative form we work so hard to perfect.

Enough preamble, here’s the first picture with some words under it (see Quentin, simple words):

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Princess Pricklepants was very busy working on her farm, but even with more cows than she could count (anything more than four is really hard), she wasn’t making a lot of money selling milk.  She held a council with the cows, and asked for ideas.  Bessie the cow spoke up, “I think if we got more animals we’d ultimately benefit from increased production.  Also, Quentin needs a dictionary.  Cows have large vocabularies, it’s the way we are.  Deal with it.”  So Princess went to the place where you get animals and got some more.

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The new crocodiles were happy in their pond.  The cows seemed moderately concerned but were hopeful that crocodile eggs would fetch a good profit.  Jane, the cow accountant ran the numbers, but even after a few hours there was still no new money coming in.  Strange.  She said some technical things about taxes and capital investment we don’t need to repeat.  She complained that she got a CPA, and we really should go into those details, but we ignored her.  While Jane complained that it would add to the believability and richness of detail to the story if we talked about tax benefits from depreciations of capital something-or-others, Princess went to the place where you get animals to get some more.

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The cows weren’t so sure about the bear.  Bessie, the generic cow, said something very inappropriate that we can’t repeat.  Other cows mentioned that the bear didn’t seem as polite as the crocodiles.  Jane, the cow accountant, noted that bears don’t actually produce anything that farms need.  Christine, the cow safety officer, mentioned that bears were potentially dangerous.  Bessie, the generic cow, also mentioned that the bear looked angry.

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“Rawr,” said the bear (whose name was Boris, and who was offended that nobody had really given any proper introductions, so impolite – he was Canadian, and was upset at how rude these animals were).  Princess and the cows decided to spend some time far from the bear whose name and nationality they didn’t know.

They had another meeting.  “Princess, you need to do something about the bear.”  Jane, the cow accountant, mentioned that there were some concerns about accounts, but maybe they could wait for the bear situation to be handled.

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They had a farm to run, so Princess bravely introduced herself to the bear formally and used her impeccable manners to make friends.  But still even with cows, crocodiles, and a bear, Jane, the cow accountant, was insistent about the fact that the farm still wasn’t earning enough money.  In fact it seemed like they somehow had less money, which she tried to explain in a long drawn out explanation.  While Jane was rambling, Princess left to go to the place where you get animals to get some more.

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In retrospect, it probably wasn’t a good idea to get a Spinosaurus.  The Spinosaurus was terribly rude as well as terrifyingly dangerous.  The cows all insisted that a Spinosaurus was not a farm animal.  Boris mentioned that he thought that Spinosauruses were extinct, though obviously he wasn’t a well educated bear.

Christine, the cow safety officer, mentioned that bears ate berries, roots, and honey, cows ate grass, crocodiles didn’t eat, but she was pretty sure that the Spinosaurus ate hedgehogs, cows, and bears.

The crocodiles were happy, though, as they basked in the sun at the pond.

idea

“I have an idea, eh,” said Boris, stepping forth with great gravitas and bearing.  “Things are getting complex.  It’s especially challenging with that hoser Quentin limiting our prodigious vocabularies.  I am a very erudite bear with a Masters degree in Comparative Mythology, so this is killing me.  Let’s check the internet to see what it says about hedgehog-run farms with cows, bears, crocodiles, and Spinosauruses.  There’s probably tons of web page site whatevers about that topic.”  So Princess searched websites, and finally went to a hedgehog farmer’s web forum (hedgehogfarmercentral.com) to try to figure things out.  The other hedgehogs on the Internet suggested she go to hedgehogfarmsupply.com to order some automated assistants.  One helpful forum member mentioned that if she used her Ink credit card she would earn points that might be useful to offset farm expenses. There was something else about how it would code as office supplies, but the post was too long to finish reading. Princess had online farm shopping to do. So she ordered some automated farm assistants.

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The helper robots were very good at teaching the Spinosaurus manners.  The cows liked the robots, they worked with the bear to overcome his irrational fear of Spinosauruses, and the crocodiles liked the robots, bonding over the fact that they had a lot in common.

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The farm started making a profit, they were producing milk, crocodile eggs, the robots taught the bear to collect a lot of honey to sell, and the dinosaur did an incredibly nice job at being a dinosaur.  The only problem was that the robots did such a wonderful job at running the farm that there wasn’t a need for Princess to even be there any longer.

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So, with all her farm business humming along nicely, Princess decided to take a trip to the outer reaches of interstellar space to pursue her real passion – space exploration.

Next: Princess Pricklepants and the Planet of the Dinosaurs

Princess Pricklepants and the Planet of the Dinosaurs


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One day, while out looking for a nice bakery that carried some good macarons, her poor sense of direction left her exploring the outer reaches of interstellar space.  Due to poor spatial sense and a mistaken impression that she’d found a nice looking pâtisserie, she inadvertently made an unplanned landing of her ship, the Atelerix, on the surface of a mysterious planet in the middle of a theater of a primitive species of dinosaur dramatists.  Fortunately it was a surprisingly soft theater so there were no injuries or damages besides the theater being a bit askew.

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“Rawr” said an offended lead actor dinosaur, who appeared to have briefly forgotten his manners.  Princess took a moment to compose herself.

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She glared the best prima donna glare she could muster.  The occasionally appearing director on a stick began to attempt to direct the scene.  “Rawr!”

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“I must think of a clever, yet plausible solution to this strange predicament,” thought Princess.  She briefly wondered how her life had somehow reached the point that she was a royal hedgehog princess sitting in a spacecraft in the middle of an alien theatrical production being yelled at by a director on a stick, surrounded by strange alien relics of an ancient past that still practiced live dramatic arts.  She remembered that this was no the time for that kind of meandering reflection – it was time to act.

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She called out to her trusty translator droid, 2BORNOT2B, “Quick, translate those lines the director said.”  The droid used its highly advanced compu-matic circuits to produce a translation – “Rawr.”

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Unfortunately, there are subtle inflections in dino-speak, so she wound up saying, “Your mother is a hamster,” to a Spinosaurus supporting actor.  This was not taken well on a planet where, due to monitoring the distant radiation transmissions from Earth, the dinosaurs were all too aware that in millions of years hamsters would evolve into sophisticated talking apes with iPhones, while their descendants would be sparrows, chickens, and parakeets enslaved by the evil ape-overlords.

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The droid translated the dino-alien’s reply, “Gosh, that’s really impolite, space tourist hedgehog, you’ve hurt my feelings, also crashing space-ships into our theater is highly inappropriate.”  Princess was mortified.  She was an expert on manners, yet as the first emissary to the planet of the Thespisaurs she’d managed to make a faux pas.  More than one, really, but she didn’t know how to pluralize that word.

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She roused up her most dramatic pose, and recited a majestic soliloquy in dino-speak.  Her dialogue and delivery were so rousing, wonderful, polite, moving, and dramatic that the dinosaurs forgave her disruption to their production of Othellosaurus and also forgave her previous hamster-related insult.  They were so moved at her theatrical talents and refined manners that they declared her Princess Pricklepants, Queen of the Dino Planet, Prima Donna par excellence, and also said she was remarkably nice for a mammal.  They began the revels.

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“Wait, please, these revels are full of wonderful frolicking delight, and are truly extraordinary, but my noble bearing requires a level of seriousness, artfulness, and subtlety.  Perhaps we could play Scrabble?”  The dino-dramatists agreed, and she scored 128 points with ZLOTIES on a triple word score with the Z on a double letter, and they lived delightfully and politely ever after.

Next: Princess Pricklepants and the Surprising Set of Events

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

Manners - 04

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

Manners - 05

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.

Manners - 06

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.

Manners - 07

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

Manners - 11

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.

Manners - 12

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.
Manners - 15

Mmm.  Ice Cream.

Lesson 8: Guests Crocodile Wrestling

Manners - 16

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:
Manners - 17

“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

Manners - 18

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

Manners - 19

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