Details, Details . . .

We’ve been pedal to the metal on the Writewell lectures, the learning curve is huge on this, especially since Lani and I have, well, competitive streaks, so we kept looking at each other’s work in progress and upping our own game. But finally, FINALLY, we have the first three lectures done, the first one that’s just an introduction to the project so it’s free, Lani’s Lecture 102 Discovery, and my Lecture 103 Conflict. So tonight, basking in the glow of my accomplishment as I start work on 211 The Four Act Structure, I take a closer look at a teacup I used as a macguffin all the way through 103 and into 211. And I do a head-desk.

The example is Edna and Bernie and if you’ve heard me talk about goals before, you’ve heard me talk about how Edna is waiting for this cup of tea that Bernie makes her every night at six, serving it in the special teacup he gave her for a wedding present. Here’s the cup:

Of course, it wasn’t that SIZE when I put it all the way through the video as the cup Bernie gave Edna. I kept looking at it, thinking “What the hell is that in that cup, an egg?” but did I blow it up to look at it? Noooooooooooo.

I am not doing that video over. I have replaced the cup in the new video, and I’m counting on nobody noticing. Which of course they will. Especially now that I’ve told you guys, you keep secrets worse than I do. I keep thinking I can explain it away as an aspect of Bernie’s character, but basically . . . no.

Edna’s new cup is lovely:


And the lesson for today, class:

Look at your illustrations closely.

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

46 thoughts on “Details, Details . . .

  1. What in the heck is in that cup? It’s the shape of a villain’s mustache or something. You’re right the new cup is pretty. So irritating when one misses something simple and afterwards has to say – what was I thinking?

  2. “It’s the shape of a villain’s mustache or something.”

    So could it be an in-built moustache-guard? The cup equivalent of an antimacassar?

    And a quick Google suggests that this was actually the reason:

    Moustache Cups were invented in the mid 1800s by an English potter named Harvey Adams. In those Victorian times, most men had impressive moustaches, and many men waxed or even dyed their moustaches to keep them groomed and curled and looking fabulous. And of course, they drank tea. So, what happened was wax would melt, and dye would run and gentlemen would get embarrassed.

    So, Mr. Adams created a “moustache guard”, a moustache-shaped ledge that went across the cup, with an opening in the middle to sip the tea through. This allowed the gentleman to drink his tea and keep his moustachioed upper lip dry. It goes without saying that this item became very popular, and eventually made its way from England and Europe all the way to America. Of late, they have become sought-after collectors’ items. (Toronto Antiques)

  3. Snort. Poor Edna. I feel such a kinship with her now. I don’t quite need a moustache cup, but… Bernie clearly loves her anyway. Good man that Bernie.

  4. Yep, it’s a moustache cup. Gotta love those Victorians and their enthusiasm for tableware specific for every purpose. Pickle fork anyone?

    1. A pickle fork is nothing; they got much weirder than that. I personally have, among other oddities, a potato fork, which is a serving piece with two tines spread at almost a 90-degree angle. It’s actually very good for serving Yorkshire pudding.

      1. Victorians perfected the art of being excessive. For our 25th wedding anniversary we decided we were the kind of people who needed sterling (we weren’t when we married – one becomes more complex as she ages) and bought a set of art nouveau. As place pieces it has salad forks, dinner forks, oyster forks, demitasse spoons, teaspoons, cream soup spoons, gumbo spoons, boullion spoons, chocolate spoons, ice cream spoons, place spoons, pate knives, butter knives, salad knives, dinner knives. And this does not count the things we don’t have for each setting that I know of such as fish knives and forks, fruit knives and forks, butter picks, ice cream forks, strawberry forks, asparagus holders, marrow scoops and the one I long for desperately – terrapin forks. Needless to say I have not moved on to serving pieces since they have a ton of silver in them and cost the earth.

          1. Ice cream forks are for Victorian ice cream where it might be in the shape of a bombe with a filling in the middle of nuts and fruit and praline and other stuff that needs a fork. I know it is weird since most Cookbooks of the period always have you eat all dessert with a place spoon when modern casual useage has you use a teaspoon – unless of course you have the Franklin Mint of silver services and have an implement for each specific food.

          2. Did the Victorians have ice cream cake? Maybe that is what you use an ice cream fork for. Although then I have to wonder how you get all the delicious slightly melty ice cream. Possibly you then use an ice cream soup spoon.

  5. Wow. I remember seeing one at my grandmother’s house but other than that I’ve never seen a picture. My mom just moved. I wonder if she’s going to bother to unpack it.

  6. You know Jenny, you could just pull the original cup into Photoshop elements and clone the interior of the cup to cover up the spout, or mustache or whatever it is. The way it’s drawn, no one would ever know the difference.

  7. My grandfather had one of those that he used to keep his mustache dry. My mustache-less cousin has it now. Maybe he’ll feel inspired to grown one!

  8. I think that Edna and Bernie have a fine sense of humor. Edna admired that tea cup, mustache guard and all, when they were strolling past a china shop and stopped to admire the window display. Edna made a comment that she has a tendency to drink tea too quickly and it scalds her tender lip. So, a mustache guard could be a help for her, too. Bernie remembered and went back to purchase the cup which shows that he pays attention when she talks and that the only scorching he wants to happen to her lips is the one he delivers when they kiss.

  9. Oh, fun. I just finished reading Gail Carriger’s Timeless, and she references a moustache cup. I didn’t know what they looked like, but now I do. How timely. 😉

  10. Am I the only one who thought they would see something naughty in the cup? I was trying to make out a testicle or something. Now I feel ashamed that it’s a mere moustache guard.

  11. I’d say keep the cup. It has character. And thanks to Mary Stella, an entire back story.

    And for the more exciting news, the first lectures are done! Whoot! When can we get them?

    1. They’re being beta-tested now. Also, I accidentally deleted the original versions of them, so if I have to make any changes, I’m going to have to start from scratch. Unless Lani and Alastair can work magic. They’re good, but they’re not that good.

      1. Bummer. I can transition a Word doc to a PDF and back again so maybe they can do that with these programs for you. Then again, they’re probably great the way they are. You guys put so much time and effort into these things. Thanks for caring so much that we get our $10 worth.

      2. Jenny, surely you can get it back via Time Machine? Just go to where it was on your Mac and then launch Time Machine and wade back until it rematerializes. (I’m an awful lot more relaxed about throwing things in the trash now I know that I can retrieve them if I need to!)

        1. I turned off Time Machine because it slowed everything down too much. But I did find the iMovie file, and I managed to copy and paste from the PDF, so now I just have make slides to replace the ones with typos. I can’t believe I put typos into a movie. Never proofread your own stuff.

  12. Should have stuck with the original cup. It would have peaked the reader’s interest. Was Edna really Edward? Or did Edna have an unfortunately hairy upper lip which Bernie had no issues with. (Every night, after his kiss goodnight, he’d stroke it and say, “Sleep tight, my love.”)

  13. I’m impressed with how ornate and floral that cup is. I can’t think of a guy I know that would buy a cup like that or a manufacturer today that would market something that floral at men. Perhaps back then men with uber manly mustaches just didn’t have to protect their manliness like men today?

  14. Having just come here from a fashion blog, where the blogger was talking about managing the various types of body hair…. The first thought that went through my mind was “What’s wrong with a mustache minder if she’s got one?”

  15. On seeing the cup I thought, lovely cup and interesting pattern inside and it does look like an egg is sitting in it. Not until I read the posts and went back did I see the mustache shape for what it was. And Bernie bought Edna a new cup for their anniversary. :-)

      1. Gee, and after he was so thoughtful to buy her the mustache cup. She’s not a very grateful person, that Edna. She appears to have anger issues, too. Maybe Bernie should spring for therapy.

      2. It was probably because he bought her a mustache cup. (-: The things I don’t know! I’d never ever had imagined a mustache cup . . . .

        1. LOL, replied before I saw Skye’s comment. Isn’t it delicious how two people can see a cup, and get opposite stories? LOL! (I’m still a little boggled by the mustache cup . . . . I would have never, ever noticed it. Jenny, I still don’t quite understand why you thought it was not really acceptable. Did you realize it was a mustache cup, or did you see a hoo-ha cup or something?)

          Oh, and congrats on a rip-roaring start!

          1. You crack me up. I see Bernie walking around oblivious that he has a fork stuck in his head and just going about his business making Edna cups of tea…LOL Now I need to know what a ‘hoo-ha’ cup is. Need clarification. I keep writing stuff and deleting…holding back…probably shouldn’t. :-)

  16. This post is a great example of why I love this blog. It’s educational, snarky and hilarious all in one stop reading. And I really enjoy all the wonderful comments. Merci, gracias, and many thanks to everyone for the fun.

  17. Jenny, Jonah Lehrer is on with Charlie Rose tonight–maybe you’ll want to track down the broadcast. I’ve been listening to the audiobook since you mentioned “Imagine.” I can’t believe how young (and adorable) he is! He’s cheering me up after a documentary about plastic.

  18. And here I looked at it and thought, “why did they stick a smile on the rim of that cup?”
    and then went
    “ooohhhh it’s a pair of lips! And when you drink from the cup you kiss them… maybe a house of ill repute item? Only Jenny could come up with that”
    and then read the comments.

    Er, yeah… a mustache…. right…
    I’ve been hanging around too many lesbians lately. What happened to all my straight friends? lol, they’d have seen it right away.

  19. Good rule. Here’s why I agree.

    Many moons ago I was in a volunteers course at the local hospice and there was a personal growth component where we had to do a collage of pictures that reflected who we were.

    I was 22-ish and studying and used to read a magazine every so often. Imagine my surprise when I saw a picture that another participant used. It was from an article I’d read. She used the picture to describe how she loved to write – valid – as it was a picture of a writing pad and a yellow pencil. But the picture was from a report on the author’s experiences at a Betty Dodson course she’d been on. So the other thing in this 4*2cm picture was one of Betty Dodson’s stainless steel barbells.

    I think I was the only one who knew what it was – I had visual context.

    I’d like to think she did know and did it deliberately but I really don’t think so.

    I’d also say, look at your illustrations closely.

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