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November 09, 2007

Bullshit Bingo

Bullshit Bingo

By Rebecca the Bookseller

Any one who has ever attended a big meeting probably already knows about Bullshit Bingo. Its formal origin in contemporary culture can be tracked all the way back to 1993, when reports of a new corporate distraction called Buzzword Bingo came out of Silicon Valley. The story goes that Tom Davis and others at Silicon Graphics created a software program to generate bingo cards with corporate-speak terms and snotty phrases (an early bingo card included "At Stanford, we..."). Each person attending a meeting got a bingo card, and marked the squares as each term was used. The first one with a straight line won, but only if he or she called out the magic word: Bingo!.

Then, in 1994, the game became part of the mainstream consciousness via Dilbert:


Dilbert's Buzzword Bingo begat variations like Asshole Bingo (played at singles bars), Nutjob Bingo (for family reunions) and Bullshot Bingo (a drinking game). Bullshot bingo was kind of like the old "Hi Bob" drinking game, where everyone has to drink a shot when certain words are said. I played all three in the '90s. In fact, I think I might be responsible for Nutjob Bingo, but it's hard to tell. Good times.

By the time the Wall Street Journal covered the game in a front-page story, it was 1998. By the end of 2000, the cool kids had moved on to something else.

Now, it's making a comeback. The current version is called Bullshit Bingo, and it's featured on an IBM commercial.

So in honor of those steel-stoned players who actually yelled Bingo while the CFO was speaking, let's make up our own. What catch phrases or idiotic lingo just makes you want to scream? Is it the sportscaster who makes some insightful statement like: "You know, Bob, if they want to win, they are going to have to score more points."? Is it the automated sales person who calls and asks you to "Hold for this very important message"?

This is the same concept except it's words. What sets you off? An overused word delivered by a pompous boss who wouldn't know an independent thought if it bit him? Or how about the technical terms that are copped and used by people who barely know how to turn on their own monitor? And my favorite are the people who use words and you know damn well they have no idea how to define them. You can suggest short phrases too.

Here are a few from old days and new to get us started:

Up to Speed
Ball's in your court
Cutting edge
Hot button
Data Mining

Now all I need is a "reverse engineer" and I've got a Bingo!


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"At the end of the day"


Here's one that wouldn't be on any list, but it is with a person from another company with whom I am currently dealing who refers to herself/himself in the third person from time to time. I want to stick a letter opener through the phone. At 5:11 a.m., it still rankles me.

We don't "have the bandwidth" to get into this at the moment, but "shoot off an e-mail" and we can "synch-up" later on the subject; I'll need to know the "value add" and "processor power" before proceeding. While I'm certain you've got a "squadron" behind you, based on experience it would be in everyone's best interests to "kick the tires and light the fires."

(Don't laugh, y'all...this is better than the sports metaphors of the 1980's....)

And Josh, that Third Person stuff drives me right up the wall, too.

"Outside the box"
"Value added"
"Mission statement"
"Perception management"
"Marketing Integration"

I'll be be back later to play some more. Can't wait to see what else comes up.

Win Win
Step up to the plate
Strategic direction
Knock on doors
Eat their lunch
Eat our lunch
Swim with the big fishes

Oh, man how could I forget the classics?


Don't forget to Day-Timer that. We're going to have to hardball this one if we want to be on top of the game. We may have to drill down on it, but if successful we can be Best of the Breed, Cock of the Walk, A-Number One.

Rebecca, you forgot Law School Bingo!

Before class a "phrase of the day" was circulated. Usually it was something silly like "macaroni and cheese". Everyone made their own card using names of classmates they thought were likely to talk in class. Since everyone pretty much knew who these people were by the second week of class it was fairly easy to get a straight line, and so we made it harder. Once you had your straight line, you could only "win" by answering the professor's question and using the prhase of the day in your answer. "Well professor, the framers of the Constitution protected our right to free speech, but not to eat macaroni and cheese..."

Oh, Josh, thank you. I am so bugged by "at the end of the day" that I used the name for my fictional soap opera in DEAD EX.

Because I guess around lunch time we're all willing to do immoral and unethical stuff, and at breakfast, who hasn't committed a murder or two? But AT THE END OF THE DAY it's those family values that mean the most.

Oh, yeah -- FAMILY VALUES. (You know, as opposed to those other values. Money-grubbing, self-seeking, stranger values.)

People who should know better saying
"irregardless" or using bad grammar as in "to she and I".

Katie! You make me want to go to Law School!

What always amused me were the Town Hall Meetings ON "Family Values" and "Work/Life Balance".... but try and implement those, and you'd be "re-evaluated" and "counseled". We all used to laugh a lot....:)



"True fact." It's the favorite saying of one of my local politicians. That and "to be completely honest."

"Impact" as a verb. And how will that impact the bottom line?

Sounds like a rotten tooth.

Teaching has a whole alphabet soup of terms, currently NCLB related, much of which seems designed to make people feel that they don't know what they are doing since they don't use the new jargon to describe it. It did make me angry enough to commit murder . . . in fiction only, of course. Accountability was the word used to explain why we couldn't do anything not state-test-related, including a field trip to see a Shakespeare play.
**Good News** Riverfront Times has a nice announcement of Elaine's booksigning (tomorrow!!) with photo and everything. Yeah! I didn't see anything in the Post. Did I not look carefully enough, or did you play too much Bingo at the Post, Elaine?

Love this blog topic, Rebecca! My corporatese and legalese are out of date, but I have a few au courant terms from the writing/publishing world.

High concept

Brief hijack -- I'll be at Crime Bake in Dedham, Mass., this weekend, where I'll retry Jack Reacher (played by Lee Child) for a murder he committed in the book "Persuader." We first did this trial at ThrillerFest in 2006, and the jury hung. Julia Spencer-Fleming is the defense attorney. She's tough, but he's plenty guilty! I'll let you know the outcome next week.

Gone missing. The closely related "went missing" also makes me shudder.

Anytime soon.

My husband and I have a paragraph-long litany of idiotic sports phrases. We recite them in unison (sort of) before the NFL games: You have to play on both sides of the ball/you have to put some points on the board/you have to play all four quarters/someone has to make a play/you have to catch that ball/you have to make that pass.....

Football announcer bingo? I like the sound of that.

"At this point in time" always annoys me.

"leverage" (used as a verb)
"source" (used as a verb)
"effect change"

What a great blog! My institution recently circulated a document that, near as my husband and I could determine, had something to do with marketing the University to the local community. Something like 5 years in development, the 'plan' was one of those documents whose words, taken individually, were recognizable but that, taken collectively, were completely incomprehensible. To this day, I have no idea what it said. I'm going to try to find it to post an excerpt. . . .

Guess what? There's a website that will generate cards for you -


I'm thinking about doing one of these for the next presidential debate. Because if any group parrots the cliche of the day, it's these people.

Michele - if anyone can nail Lee Child, it's you!

I Googled the "sick leave policy" joke memo that circulated (in the 70's?) for a friend having sick leave issues -- here's just a part
SICKNESS: No excuse. We will no longer accept your doctor's statement as proof, as we believe that if you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

LEAVE OF ABSENCE (For An Operation): We are no longer allowing this practice. We wish to discourage any thought that you may have about needing an operation. We believe that as long as you are employed here, you will need all of whatever you have and should not consider having anything removed.

From my days in the early to mid 90s as an assistant buyer in a major bookstore...

I have an issue with that.

Have an issue? WTF? Could be it was just my boss that iritated me so, but that just drove me nuts.

Mary, I had a manager that genuinely believed in the Sick Policy you describe. This genius was also such a good manager he refused to allow the company to purchase coffee or other beverages for employees as he didn't drink coffee, and believed caffeine was "Devil's Brew".

You can well imagine how he and I got along....

"bundle or unbundle"...as in, we're going to bundle our systems with theirs.
"This will not affect your daily work"
"Pursuant to our conversation"
Any acronym to differentiate department:
FOPS=Financial operations
LOPS=Loan operations
TOPS=Trust operations
DOPS=Deposit operations
We sound like Peter Rabbit's banker cousins!
(Merger is this weekend, so I'm a bit cranky)
"Text me"
"Branding"-makes it sound like we're cattle drovers

Speaking of sick/bereavement policies, did you hear about a Minnesota Vikings player (last name Williamson) was docked a weeks pay because he chose to go home and deal with his grandmother's death & funeral. Evidently the NFL does not have a bereavement policy in place and can withhold a 'game' paycheck if you chose to go home. I'd say the NFL Players Association needs to get some work done for the next contract!

I knew this crew would have some good ones!

I got some via e-mail from people who don't want to comment because they have to register with Typepad. You know, it's pretty sad when Big Brother has us all so cautious - but I understand - I won't sign up for stuff that asks for any personal information either.

Here are the ones from e-mail:

career tracking
step up to the plate
bite the bullet
reinventing the wheel

Funny how many of these are sports-related, huh? Makes me want to swing for the fences - you know, the whole nine yards - with nothing but net.

Sports cliches are the best. Thats one of my favorite parts in "Bull Durham"...Costner teaching "Nuke" the cliches he should use. A beloved hockey player here in St. Louis, who has been a head coach for quite some time, gave an interview that used about 10 words total, but went on for about 2 minutes. "Its just part of the game. Trades are part of the game. Fights are part of the game." and it ended with "Parts of the game are just part of the game". A local dj plays it on occassion and it has me in tears every time.

What about a local news bingo? Those folks drive me batty.

~a newschannel whatever exclusive
~you heard it here first
~a rain/snow event (WTF is that? do they mean it's gonna rain? or snow?)
~wind chill/heat index. . . (I don't want to know I'm supposed to feel more miserable than I already do)

Oh yeah, Michele..can you make sure he's paroled in time for Love Is Murder in Chicago? :o) (It's Super Bowl weekend too...)

I found out that I'm a SILO, someone who works independently and is not really part of the office team. This is not a good thing, I was told. But I don't really mind.

Karen, I'll have to tell my current boss that term. I have been told I am not part of the team, also. I don't see the team trying to do my job...

Oh good - I wanna wear a SILO button too - I'll bet we can come up with some interesting ways to make that an acronym.

I worked for a corporation where *everything* was an acronym. As if everyone was way too busy to actually use the real words.

Here's a SILO acronym: Simply Intelligent Leave (us) Alone. The unspoken part is - we're doing our job already. Step off.


I love this game! I heard an annoying publishing one yesterday: POS. Tossed around in conversation with the initials. It means Point of Sale, apparently. In other words: A bookstore.

My husband watches that Survivor reality show here in my office, and I listen as long as I can stand it, but all the "players" love to "play the game" by using strings of these Bingo phrases. "I stepped up to the plate."

Where I come from, POS means one thing only. Just Saying.

That's what it means at my house, too, Margie! :-)

"We need the proper Mindset"

"I'm not seeing/hearing the benefit."

"What's the Takeway?"

(The one thing that is genuinely frightening is how easily this shit came back to me....)

The horror that is double-plus-good corp-speak - 'Myself' used as a replacement for 'me,' as if 'me' was somehow immodest or inelegant.

It would really help if these people had learned to read in the first place. Where I'm employed, many know only how to count.

Ah, "takeaway" was one I was going to say. I actually use that.

A recent one is "on-boarding," which refers to the hiring and orientation process for new employees.

"Solution." Everything is a Solution. Where is Mrs. Buzzard when you need her, leopard skin vest and all?

And, what does POS mean? I know what POV means.

I have to agree with Judy - the "a newschannel whatever exclusive" and the end-of-the-world promos drive me nuts!

Another thing here at the office is the positive spin on the answer to, "how are you?" With some people it's always "Fantastic" or "Terrific." The positive attitude has a negative affect when I am struggling with the truthfulness of my just plain old "Fine." How can you be freaking "Fantastic" and still be at work?

Hey, Tom! I have to stick up for those of us who can count! Usually we can read just fine - it's the writing part that throws us for a loop. The world takes all kinds of people...

"whenever", as in "whenever my daughter was born'....!!!


POS = Piece of Shitake (minus the ake)

POV = Point of View (writers) or Privately Owned Vehicle (cops)

In retail speak, POS also means Point of Sale.

Forgot this. After giving a box of candy became sexist or was considered a bribe or whatever nonsense, it became:

Positive Reinforcement with Chocolate

My knowledge of POV is Internet-based, and it doesn't have to do with writers. Although I do understand that, too.

I get irked by - "Downsized" as in "I was downsized"

We KNOW you got fired!

I think our collection is better than the originals!

Here are a couple more I got via e-mail:


In the ball park

Raising the bar (this always reminds me of limbo - the song, not the place that used to house the unbaptized babies, which no longer exists, or never did - can't keep it straght)

Run the numbers

Taking it offline

SCHEDULING NOTE: We will be doing a TLC online cookie exchange on Friday, November 23rd - most people are off that day, but if you have a recipe to share, get it ready to cut and paste it in two weeks.

Geez - Thanksgiving is in TWO weeks. Holy Moses!

We need to synch up our calendars and keep this ball in the air so we don't blow the deadline and tank the deal. heh.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph - only 3 paydays til Christmas!

You are (of course) correct, janetlynn13.

-"guardian" used in place of pet "owner"

Umm, when did "use" stop working?

But (hanging my head in shame here) I have to admit, I did use "going forward" in an email today (also known as "from now on...but I felt I had to speak in their lingo...sigh)

And as a door and hardware geek here: for all the contractors and builders, that thing that closes the door after it's opened? It's called a CLOSER - not a CLOSURE. The door does not have any psychological issues, thank you very much.

Whew - thank you for listening to my vent. *Going forward*, I'll try to be more tolerant :)

I went to the teachers' conference today to do my "Stealth Storytelling" workshop (have to sneak in the fun these days because with NCLB school is supposed to only be about the state tests. I had lunch with an old friend, who gave me some terms from PLC meetings (no I can't remember what the initials stand for -- meetings in which teachers work on curriculum,. . Professional Learning Community maybe) -- "the metrics" (data to measure the results of an activity), "artifact" (any form, worksheet, etc.) and "graphic organizer" (graphs, charts, outlines). I am so glad to be retired! -- though in truth, if I were still there, I'd still just shut my door and teach -- it's still possible to stay below their radar and do what's best for the students.
I have mailed my "NCLB Murder" to a St. Louis Writing Contest -- if it publishes locally, I'll be looking for feedback (shrapnel?) and possibly relocation.

When my ex worked at West Publishing (law books), there was a manager who was actually going to require the keypunch operators to be restricted to scheduled restroom breaks.

Mary Storyteller, obviously you have never worked in a "call center". Those of us who do understand and try to live with scheduled restroom breaks which are labeled the "15 minute break".

Oops! I forgot, that is the only break we get except for a 30 minute lunch break, if, and only if, we work enough hours the company is required to give us a break. It can be murder to work a 5.5 hour shift with only one 15 minute break. And you sometimes wondered why that call center person was in a hurry to get you off the phone. Now you know.

I'm late today. Sorry. Had PT on the knee.

I'd forgotten about BS BINGO. I had a "strong dislike" for my last boss. What an ass...anyway, I passed out BS BINGO card before the department head meeting. The boss was the only one NOT in the know (I mean, what fun would that be). About fifteen minutes into the meeting, someone muttered BINGO, just loud enough for the other players to hear. Totally went over the boss's head.

Great game. Thanks for the memories

"We're going to turn the page on this," is one I became aware of today! Hilarious.

I now have an irrational desire to write an entire story using only the bullshit bingo words.

"We'll caucus" makes me crazy, particularly if it's just one person planning to talk to me later.

PLC= Professional learning Community

and anything you do in relation to PLC training drenches you in the phrases "not reinvent/ing the wheel" and "community buy-in"

If I never hear "perfect storm" again, I'll be happy.

My all time *can't stand it* is GOOD SUCCESS, yeah, as opposed to the BAD success????

"At the end of the day"

I have become a total wreck since this phrase got under my skin. Go ahead and count how many times your village idiot says this.

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