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’ 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

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Dear Big Trouble,

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

What do you do?

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

-Princess

Lesson 2: Cows on the Couch

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

-Flustered With The Cows

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Dear Flustered,

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

What do you do?

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

-Princess

Lesson 3: Passages to Secret Gardens

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

-Mom Of The Delusional

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Dear Delusional Mom,

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

What do you do?

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

-Princess

Lesson 4: Witch Accusations

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

-Frazzled

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Dear Fraggled,

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

What do you do?

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

-Princess

Lesson 5: Pirate Treasure Maps

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

-Dreading Pirates Robbing

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Dear Dread Pirate Roberts,

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

What do you do?

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

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

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

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

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

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Lesson 5.2: Pirate Treasure Negotiators Fainting

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

What do you do?

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

Lesson 6: Annoying Photographers

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Camera Man

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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

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

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

Lesson 7.1: Pirate Map Sharing

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

What do you do?

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

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Pals.  Good.

Lesson 7.2: Pirate Maps and Crocodiles

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

What do you do?

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

Lesson 8: Guests Crocodile Wrestling

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

What do you do?

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

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

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

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

-Points Widow

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Dear Window,

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

What do you do?

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

Lesson 10: The Call To Adventure

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

-Now Kind of Annoyed Mom Of The Delusional

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Dear Annoying Delusional Mom,

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

What do you do?

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

Manners - 20Adventure ho!

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

Penelope Pricklepants, Pirate Princess Part II – Plunder


Pirate Princess Penelope Pricklepants’ prison peril was secretly all a plot to get to the treasure map.

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Taking the path to the precious piles of pirate booty, she peeks at the piles of plunder.

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And prepares for passage!

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Oh no!  Sharks!  And Crocodiles!

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And old Sea Dogs!

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Will she ply her way across the seven seas to her pirate palace?

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Find out in the next publication of Penelope Pricklepants, Pirate Princess…