“Are You Guilty of Isms?” inspires a new game of Pessimistic Moustache

While reading the article “Are You Guilty of Isms” at Psychology Today, I realized I hadn’t played Pessimistic Moustache in a while. Pessimistic Moustache is a game I made up inspired by the wonderfully descriptive phrase penned by Agatha Christie. The idea is to use an ism (like pessimism, thus pessimistic) to describe things. Diana Rose Wilson and I pretty much stuck to mustaches (moustache being the way Agatha Christie spelled it) when we were playing.

The way we used to play was Diana or I would post a picture or gif of a mustache and then we would come up with isms to describe it. While reading the article on Psychology Today this morning, I thought the opposite might be fun: Come up with the description first, then send pictures of mustaches that fit the description. For instance:

What does a speciesist mustache look like?

Who has an ageist mustache?

baby stache

What shape is a nationalist mustache?

french mustache strike

Find pictures of a sexist mustache.

girl with mustache

If you would like to play along, feel free to post your pictures and descriptions in the comments, or head over to #pessimisticmoustache on twitter.

I hope you’ll join me in some fun when you need a distraction from your writing. You might find the perfect description for your character’s mustache.

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The Pessimistic Moustache Game: Avoiding cliche description

 

 The idea and tools

I recently read The Hollow by Agatha Christie and one simple but unique description jumped out at me.

“He came in accompanied by Inspector Grange, who was a large, heavy built man with a down-drooping, pessimistic moustache.”

I love the idea of pessimistic facial hair and it really got me thinking. What other isms could be paired with body parts to make unique descriptions? I started a list of isms to join pessimism: optimism, skepticism, nihilism, liberalism, etc. I also wrote a list of often described body parts: cheeks, eyes, lips and so on.Once I exhausted my own ideas, I did a little hunting on line and found some useful sites for more ideas. For isms check out The Phrontistery. I printed out their amazing list of philosophical isms and their definitions. For a list of cliché body part descriptions head over to obsidian bookshelf.

The game

So how do you play The Pessimistic Moustache Game? To start, one player has a list of body parts or other physical descriptions (e.g. gait, scar, laugh, etc.) and the other player(s) has the list of isms. The person with the body part list chooses a body part and says it out loud. Then the other player(s) has to match it with an ism to use as a descriptor. The person who chooses the best ism for the body part gets to choose the next ism and the other player(s) matches it with a corresponding body part.

You can add another dimension to the game by printing out pictures of people to inspire the descriptions though that might limit the responses.

My experiences

To date, this game amuses me to no end. I find the exercise challenging and every match makes me laugh. Has it improved my writing? Have I found the perfect new way to create unique descriptions? Maybe not, but I’ve only played with one other person so far and the possibilities are endless. It sure does make me laugh.

Further development

A couple days ago, I was reading In the Beauty of the Lillies by John Updike and found another very interesting phrase.

“. . . its heavy sweet smell rose around him possessively . . .”

I hadn’t thought of a smell being possessive before. And if a smell can be possessive, why not someone’s fingernails, or lips? The list of isms could definitely be expanded to include other conceptual adjectives that one would not usually attribute to body parts.

Then there is also descriptions of sensations (like smell) and perceptions. The Pessimistic Moustache Game could include matching senses to isms. What is the smell of materialism? What is the texture of postmodern feminism?

I hope you enjoy playing Pessimistic Moustache and it gets the neurons churning while you laugh and laugh. Please send me your favorite matches in the comments, so all my readers can play along.

Happy Reading and Writing!