Breaking coffee mugs, bad coffee mugs

You know what doesn’t make sense? The University of Melbourne merchandise. Specifically, the coffee mugs.

Or coffee mug. Singular. I think there’s only one style in the range.

A bit of background, for those who don’t happen to live in Melbourne, or at least haven’t stepped into one of the campus bookstores. The university (herein UoM, because Hey, Acronyms) has bookstores upon it’s grounds. I mean, two bookstores. Maybe more. They sell books. Like text books. Novels as well, but there’s less floorspace for the non-textbook books. And the only person I remember seeing walk out of the store with a non-textbook book was myself, having bought a book about Melbourne’s coffee history, authored by one “Andrew May”. I had also bought textbooks in that transaction, and saw the book while I was queueing. Hey, I’m a coffee person.

I mean, did you know that Starbucks failed in Melbourne? It’s because we already have lots, and lots, and lots of caf├ęs. It’s crazy. We don’t go for the Big Gulp-size coffee experience. Put a latte in our hands and we’re fine. Me, at least. I suppose some other people prefer non-latte drinks. When I’m king, the first thing I’ll do is stone them to death, but in the meantime I guess they have a “right” to live.

Anyway, they also sell merchandise. Polo shirts. Hoodies.

The reason this is relevant is that a year ago, on my eighteenth birthday, someone who doesn’t want to be identified on this blog (you know who you are) bought me a coffee mug. It’s a nice coffee mug. Or was, because now it’s just-over-two-thirds-a-coffee-mug. I was washing it recently and it slipped from my hands, tumbled into the basin, and broke. While it remained mainly in one piece, the piece is fairly useless as anything but a paperweight or decor, as pretty much one entire side of it is now gone. It’s a nice break, though, fairly smooth and curved. I might use it as a pencil holder now. Even though I’ve already got one. The two-thirds-a-mug features a portion of a circa-1900 map of France. That’s from memory, though, as the part of the design that indicated the map’s title was in the one-third-a-mug that is no longer connected to the two-thirds-a-mug. It’s probably in landfill by now. Off in damaged-crockery heaven, each piece flapping it’s little wings.

It was my favourite coffee mug, you know. I might have to buy another at some point.

Anyway, this is why I decided to buy something from the extensive UoM merchandise range. Not a polo shirt, of course. I don’t think you can drink coffee using a polo shirt. I bought a coffee mug. A UoM coffee mug. From memory, they weren’t selling any other coffee mugs. And, for what it is, it’s a nice coffee mug. It’s fairly well built, as far as I know. I mean, I’m no expert on coffee mugs, that’s for sure. Although I haven’t yet read it, I don’t think that Mr. May’s coffee book would go into the mechanics of coffee mugs, nor describe indicators to what would be a quality mug. I mean, I know what a quality mugging is, because if you are able to walk away with absolutely nothing of value upon your person and yet are still able to walk, you can be sure that your mugee is damned good at what he does, but take away those last four characters and I have to resort to guesswork and “common sense”, if indeed my take on common sense is the common one.

As far as mugs go, it’s very square – without taper, beyond the internal one at the lip to provide a more comfortable drinking surface, and the cylinder diameter is reasonably close to the height of the mug. I’m grateful for that, of course, as I already own two taller, though small mugs, which are completely unusable. The small aperture restricts teaspoon movement, something that annoys me greatly, and that they are of no greater hight than any other mug means that they are of decreased volume, making them unusable for soup – dedicate a sachet to one and it is too thick, split it between the two and it is far, far to thin. But the UoM mug, with it’s squareness, avoids this.

The external colour of the mug is the University’s blue, dark enough to begin edging into the navy region. Navy being the colour, not the branch of defence force. The colour, I believe, is perhaps not as well associated with the University as Cadbury’s purple is associate with, well, Cadbury, but seeing as how they use it whenever they can, the use of it on their coffee mugs is not unexpected. The inside, of course, is white, as is the logo on the mug. If the logo and text (also white) were any other colour, you wouldn’t be able to read them. That, or it would be very aesthetically displeasing. Fluorescent yellow and dark blue don’t really go together.

This, however, brings me to the one irritating thing about the coffee mug – The logo. In itself, it’s not a bad logo – for those who can’t be bothered to get their Google on, said logo consists of a winged (wung?) woman with a laurel in her hand, displayed alongside a stylised representation of the Southern Cross (southern-hemisphere star constellation, for you Americans and Europeans and… Northern Hemespherians in general) upon a shield. Perhaps of interest is that the wings extend beyond the shield, no doubt making an accurate representation of the logo upon an actual shield difficult. The ribbon of text (“Postera Crescam Laude”, which I assume is Latin although I have no clue as to it’s meaning) might also prove challenging to represent.

The logo, however, and the text below it, are on the wrong side of the mug. The wrong side, you ask? How can there be a wrong side to a coffee mug?

Well, ignoring the smart-arse mathematic people who read this and claim that the external side of a cylinder is all one surface and hence there is only one side, the fact that when you pick up the mug to drink from it and the logo is pointing towards you shows that it is on the wrong side. The right side for a logo being not the one you see.

Consider, for a moment, a sports fan. He (here used in a gender-neutral manner) doesn’t buy merchandise related to his sports club of choice to remind himself that he supports that sports club, does he? No, he purchases merchandise and displays it prominently so to inform the world that he supports that club, promote discussion about the related sport, and perhaps start fights with those who support other clubs. The last being especially true if we are discussing English soccer, or select nationalities with regards to tennis.

To put it another way – You don’t put bumper stickers on your car to remind yourself that Shit Happens and to eat pasta. No, you do so to calm people who you cut off in traffic and bless those who have been touched by his noodley appendage. Hopefully, you don’t put bumper stickers on your car, of course. Hopefully, you own a motorcycle instead, and don’t put bumper stickers on that either.

But why, then does my UoM coffee mug remind me of my location of tertiary education? Why does it not instead inform the world?

Think ahead, for a moment, perhaps twenty years. Let’s say that I, unfortunately, am working in an office building at a desk which happens to have two sides, in an office with a view. Hey, if I’ve been working there for twenty years, I’d damn well want an office with a view. So you and I are discussing something, and I’m drinking a coffee. You see the mug, with it’s UoM logo, and that triggers the memory of this blog post. Discussion ensures, we get into a physical fight about English soccer, and after winning said fight you home. While walking past the paramedics as they scrape my splattered corpse of the sidewalk, you decide to move to Australia so that you son (or daughter, as the case may be) so that they may attend at the UoM. The coffee mug, shattered to the point where it cannot be told apart from shards of bone, has fulfilled it’s purpose – It has advertised the University.

However, that would not happen. Why? Because all you would see as I chug down my coffee is a blue mug. The blue in question, as I said earlier, not being particularly associated with the University. Hence, you will not decide to promote this institution to your child, and the mug will have failed it’s purpose. And this disappoints me.

Consider, for a moment, the above image. It is a still from the AMC television series “Breaking Bad”. The character pictured is one Saul Goodman. I don’t need to tell you that he is a lawyer. Why do I not need to tell you that he is a lawyer? Because you already know that he is a lawyer. His coffee mug reads “World’s Greatest Lawyer”, and hence you know that Saul Goodman is a lawyer. He is a good lawyer. He is a great lawyer. He is the best damn lawyer in the television series. As far in as Season Two, Episode Eleven, he’s the only lawyer in the television series.

This fictional lawyer is so good, it appears, that when he needs a coffee mug, he has the money available to purchase a coffee mug that will fulfil it’s purpose, not just provide a way to drink fluid. He purchases a coffee mug that advertises his greatness. And he’s aware it does that. I mean, look at him. If it didn’t do that, he wouldn’t be able to pull faces like that. But because that entire fictional world knows that he’s it’s greatest lawyer, he can. And he’s aware of that, and hence he can. And because he can pull faces like that and get away with it, he is happy. And for him, this is a good thing.

Long story short, I’ve been watching Breaking Bad. It’s a good series. I’d recommend it. In fact, I do recommend it. Go watch it. Right now. Doesn’t matter what you are doing, stop doing it and find it. Breastfeeding your child can be done later. You don’t need to drive to work, because you don’t need to work. Preforming heart surgery… Well, I guess that you can do two things at once, right? I mean, how long does one operation take, a few hours? Multi-task, Doc. That’s some serious entertainment consumption time you are wasting right there.

That said, I’m annoyed it took so long for the protagonist to come up with the solution he did in Episode Nine. I mean, come on. Dude’s a Chemistry teacher, and they specifically teach Galvanic cells in high schools. At least, they do in Victoria. Albuquerque is in Victoria, right?

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2 thoughts on “Breaking coffee mugs, bad coffee mugs

  1. chris says:

    You know where I can get a mug like Saul’s?? They rock.!

  2. I guess you’ve got to be the world’s greatest lawyer.

    Unless you’re talking about his face, of course.

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