It all happened so fast.

Stay in the car!

No one was supposed to get hurt.

He was turning his life around. He HAD turned his life around.

Everybody loved him.

S/he didn’t have an enemy in the world.

He needed killing.

It was self-defense!

I was only trying to protect (you) (her) (them).

I had no choice. You would have done the same thing in my place.

(For the end of any disaster movie:) Now, we rebuild.

I didn’t see anything.

“I did it for you” is a variant of “I was just trying to protect …

Music to our ears! We’ve heard them all again and again. In cop shows and movies. In westerns and science fiction epics. These are, of course, just a few of the thousands of “lines” that comprise a typical “script.”

If you’re lucky, you can get a double or even triple play, as in: “You would have done the same thing. He wasn’t supposed to die (variant of “no one was supposed to get hurt). What else could I do (variant of “I had no other choice”).” A hat trick!

They are so standard, so common, so predictable, I decided to make a game board so you cross them off as they come up. Wherever gets a row first gets to shout NOW WE REBUILD!


You win the prize. A beer, a coke … or maybe one of those soft, salty, hot pretzels from one of those pretzel stands in the mall. How about a pizza?

We used to have a business meeting version of this, lovingly known as Buzzword Bingo. Whenever someone at the meeting spoke one of the popular buzzwords of the day, like “think out of the box,” “monetizing,” “prioritizing,” or the deathless yet ever-popular “there’s no ‘I’ in team,” or any of the thousands of trite, meaningless business clichés, colleagues would leap to their feet and shout “BULLSHIT!” Then, everyone, including the boss, would cheer. Over time, it significantly shortened those meetings and always enlivened them. With everyone keeping score, it was almost fun. No one wanted to be the one who got the chorus of BULLSHIT from the entire staff, so folks started trying to convey information using real words and concepts.

After which, we could all get back to work.

Now that we are retired, waiting for the classic television clichés that have become the backbone of scriptwriters throughout the world, we wait to hear those words. When we do — and we always do — it  is one of the most rewarding parts of watching the tube.

You get extra points if they say it exactly as written. The other night someone said “He was turning his life around. Everyone loved him!” A big score — two in one with exact wording. Does it get any better than this?


  1. angloswiss October 16, 2016 / 2:33 am

    Definitely, we even get the same choice in German


    • Marilyn Armstrong October 16, 2016 / 12:44 pm

      Chiches are how professional writers survive. When I was writing advertising copy for Doubleday, I had lists of cliches on my walls. We all shared our best cliches. It was a matter of survival and getting your job done in a reasonable about of time. But it makes everything you see and hear SOOO predictable. You know who dunnit before the credits stop rolling.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Garry Armstrong October 16, 2016 / 1:10 pm

        I wanted to make America great again!
        Top of the world, Ma!


  2. DailyMusings October 16, 2016 / 6:15 am

    love this Marilyn- your meetings sounded great!!


    • Marilyn Armstrong October 16, 2016 / 12:42 pm

      Great and brief. Eventually, they were reduced to a weekly all-you-can-eat pizza lunch. That worked fine.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. loisajay October 16, 2016 / 8:54 am

    Would I ever love to introduce my ‘team’ to this game. The supervisor would later counsel me, of course, but what the hell. It would be so worth it.


    • Marilyn Armstrong October 16, 2016 / 12:41 pm

      The game reduced everyone to hysterical laughter. And it wasn’t too long before the meetings — the “all hands” meetings — stopped. It was such a small company. Boss could have raised his voice in the hallway and we’d have all heard him, so the meeting was at best, silly.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. swo8 October 16, 2016 / 12:15 pm

    Did you ever get anything done at those meetings?


    • Marilyn Armstrong October 16, 2016 / 12:40 pm

      No, of course not. I don’t ever remember getting anything done at ANY meeting. That’s the point. If you need to talk to someone or a couple of people, meet with them, talk, make decisions. Those “all hands on deck” meetings are just huge time wasters. You never accomplish ANYTHING. And it doesn’t matter what company it is, either.

      Liked by 1 person

      • swo8 October 16, 2016 / 12:47 pm

        I kind of thought so. Our daughter, who works at U of T has endless meetings and they are such a wast of time according to her.


        • Marilyn Armstrong October 16, 2016 / 1:03 pm

          They chew up your work day. I remember at one point being chewed out for not going to meetings. I said “You want the book finished? Or me at the meetings? You can’t have both.” They sent me the minutes. There was NOTHING in them relevant to my work. Not one line.

          Liked by 1 person

          • swo8 October 16, 2016 / 1:05 pm

            It was all tokenism. You had to be there so their could make some
            pronouncement that they could claim everyone agreed with.


            • Marilyn Armstrong October 17, 2016 / 11:23 am

              I was the writer. Everyone else was a developer. So basically, none of it had anything to do with me except maybe five minutes at the end when the deadlines changed … again. I could have gotten that as an email. Instead, a whole wasted morning.

              Liked by 1 person

              • swo8 October 17, 2016 / 12:07 pm

                Frustrating isn’t it?


  5. evilsquirrel13 October 17, 2016 / 10:27 am

    Take cover! I’m going in! Then I’m going to walk out of the building just before it magnificently explodes in the background and act like nothing happened…


    • Marilyn Armstrong October 17, 2016 / 11:18 am

      Both favorites. I think I need a bigger matrix.

      “I’m going in!” Without backup, without radioing in, without my partner, and quite possibly, without a loaded gun. I am a MORON.

      Explosions. Some characters have been blown up two, three, four (or more) times. Garry always points out what a miracle it isthat they still hear just fine.

      “WHAT??? I’m sorry, I just got blown up …. “


      • evilsquirrel13 October 17, 2016 / 11:40 am

        I was thinking you were halfway to a bingo card! Bingo is much safer to play with cliches than drinking games…


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