Working For The Weekend

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You know those people who give you shit for being excited about the weekend?

The ones who say, “If you spend all week waiting for Friday, you’ve got your priorities screwed up. You should be fired up for Monday, not Friday.”

Allow me to say, fuck those people!

I look forward to weekends, particularly three-day weekends.

I listen to music all throughout the week, but the weekend is when I do exceptionally deep discovery dives, finding hidden gems and building playlists on Spotify.

I plan to do a lot of this over the MLK weekend.

Recently, I’ve been assembling a playlist around one of my favorite styles of music, zydeco.

From Wikipedia.

Zydeco is a music genre that evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers which blends blues, rhythm and blues, and music indigenous to the Louisiana Creoles and the Native people of Louisiana.

Though distinct in origin from the Cajun music of Louisiana, the two forms influenced each other, forming a complex of genres native to Louisiana.

The thing I like most about this type of music is that it makes you want to get up and dance. And just makes you happy. In fact, I defy you to try and be sad while listening to zydeco.

Here are some of my favorite cuts from my playlist in progress. I hope they help you to have a happy and enjoyable three-day weekend.

You can see the rest of the list here.


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Lazy Arguments

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Today, as I was slogging through the intellectual swamp that is Twitter, I came across a tweet that got my dander up, raised my hackles, and a bunch of other things an old grizzled 18th-century prospector might say.

I don’t know if I’m more annoyed by the author of this tweet or the lemmings who responded with predictably similar responses, most of which were like this;

I’ve got three pet peeves in life.

  • Lists

  • People who use the term “pet peeve”

  • Lazy thinking

This tweet is the embodiment of lazy thinking.

Ostensibly, the point that the author is trying to make is that there’s a lack of creativity and differentiation coming out of Hollywood. I don’t know if that’s true, and honestly, I don’t care.

What I care about is intelligent and elegantly arrived at points of view that reflect logic more than emotion.

So I’m going to use this tweet as a proxy for everything I hate about similarly constructed arguments – and destroy it.

First off, let me just say that the image that accompanies the tweet is awesome. And therein lies the first clue that it’s purposely optimized to evoke a reaction instead of a reasoned discussion.

Digging into the assertions this piece of eye candy is designed to bolster - for just a fraction of the time spent assembling it - quickly reveals its spurious nature.

The earliest movie shown is “Adam’s Rib,” a pre-romcom romcom starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn from 1949.

Now we have a baseline to work against.

And almost immediately, the original argument starts to lose weight, as we’re expected to accept these 100 images as proof that Hollywood’s creativity has flatlined, even though tens of thousands of movies have been produced over the last 70 years.

But aside from this statistical error, the argument contains a structural error in the way that it misunderstands art and how it’s produced.

There are only so many storylines, melodies, or ways to pose people in a photograph. This tweet seems to imply that there’s some endless pool of creativity in the world that’s not being accessed.

But that’s just not true.

Led Zeppelin is Robert Johnson. House of Cards is Shakespeare. Every K-pop song is every other K-pop song.

All art is derivative and iterative by its nature.

The only art I'll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.  -David Bowie

And what about the practicality of selling a movie?

What if close-ups of eyeballs and couples standing back to back with “I love you, but I don’t like you” looks on their face drives attention and engagement?

Is creativity for creativity's sake supposed to trump the fiscal realities of marketing a movie?

I can only imagine the conversation between marketing manager and producer;

“Excuse me, sir?”

“Yes?”

“I know your career and the studio’s future is dependent on the success of our $100 million dollar film, but I thought I’d use out of focus close-ups of a scarab beetle’s bloody severed head to promote our movie, as a statement of artistic creativity.”

“You understand that this is a romantic comedy, right?”

I know that being surprised at finding lazy thinking on Twitter is like being surprised at finding seafood at Red Lobster, but sometimes it’s just too much.

And I had an hour to kill.

Update: My Twitter friend Bob Seawright (@RPSeawright) alerted me to the original source of these images, which were created with a different context than that of the offending tweet.

If like me, you’re a huge poster art fan, it’s worth a look.

The posters of Christophe Courtois


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2020 Rock And Roll HOF Inductees: The Alternative List

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Once again it’s that time of year when music lovers all across the land slam their face into their hands and cry, “why, why, why?” – the annual announcement of new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

This year’s crop was full of particularly bad choices and you could almost hear a collective groan from the internet when the results were released.

I’m not sure who this star chamber of judges is that seem to value record sales, radio-friendly tunes, and randomness over substance, but they really annoy me, so much so that I’m going to offer my alternative take on the 2020 inductees using the criteria of groundbreakers, innovators, first-movers, and influencers before any other metrics.

Inductee: Whitney Houston

Alternative: Pat Benatar

Yes, Whitney Houston was talented and sold a gazillion records, but so have Mariah Carey, Garth Brook, Taylor Swift, and Rhianna – and they’re not in the Hall of Fame.

Houston didn’t bring anything new to the music world and the vote to induct her was most likely influenced by the sad and tragic circumstances surrounding her fall from grace and far too young demise.

Pat Benatar on the other hand – who was one of the nominees for the class of 2020 – changed the way females were viewed in a rock and roll context.

Whereas other rock divas like Nancy Wilson of Heart and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders - both previous inductees - took a more melodic approach in their songs, Benatar – like Joan Jett – took the “I’m gonna punch you in the face and you’re gonna like it” approach.

This is why even the most misogynistic of rock and roll dudes in the ’70s and ’80s, when asked if they wanted the station changed when a Pat Benatar song came on the radio responded, “Nah, leave it. She’s cool.”

Inductee: Nine Inch Nails

Alternative: Gary Numan

Put together, Nine Inch Nails’ first two albums and EP equal one and a half great albums. Then it’s all downhill from there.

Trent Reznor is a super talented guy who has gone on to win a Golden Globe, Oscar, and Grammy for his film scores, but that shouldn’t have any reflection on NIN, which is a great band, just not Hall of Fame worthy.

But ask Reznor who he things should be inducted, and he’ll tell you, “Gary Numan.”

At first, this may seem like a laughable proposition. You mean the guy who sang “Cars?”

But if you dig a little bit deeper, you’ll find an artist who was doing the whole dystopian alienated outsider pop music thing before Billie Ellish’s parents even met.

And Numan has influenced a generation of musicians, many of whom have sampled or covered his songs, like Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, Marylin Manson, and Weezer just to name a few.

Inductee: T. Rex

Alternative: T. Rex

Despite being a mostly British/Euro phenomenon, for the sheer number of bands and musicians Marc Bolan influenced, I’ll allow this.

Inductee: The Notorious B.I.G.

Alternative: Pass

I’m out over my skis on this one as I’m not a rap fan and know little to nothing about the genre.

I will say though, it seems like LL Cool J should get in before Biggie, as even a dorky white guy like me knows he was the first rap superstar.

Inductee: The Doobie Brothers

Alternative: Tower of Power

My dad loved the Doobie Brothers and I’ve been listening to them ever since I was a little kid. But let’s be honest, they’re the poor man’s Steely Dan.

In fact, when Donald Fagan and Walter Becker decided to turn the group into a studio-only duo, guitarist and original band member, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, took a demotion and transferred to the Doobies.

The band had some great years, particularly those with Michael McDonald, the highlight of which everybody knows was their legendary two-part guest shot on the seminal 70s TV show “What’s Happening!!,” in an episode entitled, “Doobie or Not Doobie.”

But despite that, there’s should only be room in the Hall of Fame for one Yacht Rock band, and Steely Dan is already in.

Now, if you’re looking for an overly membered band to induct, look no further than Tower of Power.

This pop, funk, soul fusion band from the East Bay boasts a permanent five-piece horn section and is one of the most sampled bands ever.

This partial list of those who’ve appropriated a drop or a beat from Oakland’s finest includes A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Fergie, Rick Ross, The Chemical Brothers, Cypress Hill, Nine Inch Nails, Art of Noise, Fatboy Slim, Drake, Will.i.am, Jeff Beck, and the Beastie Boys – three times.

Inductee: Depeche Mode

Alternative: The Damned

Once again, Depeche Mode, good band, but not great band.

The thing about Depeche Mode is that they could be any electronica band from the same era.

I defy you to tell me why – other than longevity – they’re any different than New Order, Erasure, Joy Division, Duran Duran, The Human League, OMD, Yazoo, or any number of similar bands.

What about them is Hall of Fame worthy?

The Damned, on the other hand, is credited as being the first UK punk band to put out a single (“New Rose”), album (“Damned, Damned, Damned”), and to tour the United States.

Their songs have been covered by Guns N’ Roses, The Offspring, Mudhoney, and the Goo Goo Dolls, their fans include Duff McKagen, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Eddie Vedder, and both Lemmy and Chrissie Hynde had (short) stints in the band.

And if there was any question about their influence on Kurt Cobain, listen to the main riff from “Come As You Are” by Nirvana and compare it to The Damned’s “Life Goes On.”

But what’s more impressive about The Damned - and Hall of Fame deserving - is that they were pioneers and influencers in three separate music genres.

This includes punk first, then hardcore, where they influenced everyone from Motörhead, to Black Flag, to the Bad Brains.

And after that, they were one of the earliest, if not the earliest band to play the music and embrace the aesthetic of what is known today as Gothic Rock.

One of life’s saddest ironies is that this member of UK punk’s original “Holy Trinity” - which includes The Clash and the Sex Pistols – is the only one of the three yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the only one that is still touring, recording, and going strong after almost 45 years.

Dave Grohl with the lead singer of The Damned, Dave Vanian


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Anatomy Of A Trading Setup

Immunomedics (IMMU) is a stock I’ve been covering in the Lund Loop Newsletter for a little over a year now, ever since a subscriber alerted me to it when it was in the single-digits.

let’s hear it for the power community. Woot!

Since June, it’s played out the familiar pattern of a stock in the midst of a trend change.

  • Double bottom

  • Break of a long down trendline

  • A retest of that trendline

  • Recapturing the four major moving averages

  • Stair stepping higher price action

This is important context indicating that the downtrend has been broken and the stock is in the beginnings of a new uptrend.

Over the last six months, IMMU is up almost 100% from its June low but has pulled back some in the past two weeks.

What I want to focus on here is Monday’s price action, which provided a great opportunity for a quick day trade or a new entry for a swing trade.

In the first hour, IMMU took a big hit, losing over 10%. The volume was decent, but nothing out of the ordinary – and there was no news coinciding with the drop.

If I had to make guess, I’d say some fund had to get out of their IMMU position fast - why we’ll never know - and just dumped it.

But the important part, as always, are the technicals.

By the end of the day, the stock closed down just over 1%, meaning it retraced almost 90% of the intraday low. In addition, it closed back above a support level and stayed above the 50-day moving average.

This shows strong demand for the stock.

In addition, the reversal provided a clear setup and a crystal-clear stop loss point.

The aggressive trader could have bought at the close Monday, assuming that the strength in the stock would carry over to Tuesday – which it did.

The day trader and the swing trader could have bought on Tuesday when price broke above Monday’s high. The former could have closed out at the end of the day for a 3%+ gain while the latter would have held.

In all three of these scenarios, the stop would be below the recent support level.


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How Far Do You Push It?

As I write this I’m sitting at a dojo watching my kids spar.

Honestly, I don’t know if you call a Taekwondo studio a “dojo.”

You do with Karate, from what I remember of watching Cobra Kai at least, but I’m too lazy to Google it for Taekwondo.

Point is, I hate being here.

Two to three times a week I have to interrupt my day to haul my kids here for an hour, and the only people that hate being here more than me are my kids.

Actually, hate isn’t strong enough of a word. They loathe taking Taekwondo – and never miss a chance to let me know.

Unlike my friend’s kids, who have every second of their day scheduled out with classes, activities, and playdates, my kids don’t like to leave the house.

They prefer their online networks to the real world. Not that I haven’t tried to convince them otherwise.

My daughter did ballet.

Hated it.

Then piano lessons.

Hated it.

My son was in the chess club.

Hated it.

Coding club.

Hated it.

They were good at each of these things, that wasn’t the issue. It was the inertia of getting away from their digital worlds.

But I forced the issue.

They had to do each activity for a year, and if they really didn’t like it at the end of the year, they could quit.

And on day 366 of each of these, they were done.

But not Taekwondo. My daughter is in her 7th year and almost a black belt. My son is in his 5th year and a brown belt.

And they are good. I mean, really fucking good. Like good enough that if they wanted to, they could compete.

But they just can’t wait for the day I let them quit. So far, I’m convinced I won’t let that happen.

This weekend, I wrote about the things you need to instill into your children so they can survive in this world. The things that make them anti-fragile, and less likely to give up in the macro and mortal sense.

Things like a sense of humor, the anticipation of what’s to come, and gratitude. But there are other things too.

There’s a physical element to anti-fragility.

As I’ve said many times before, all I want from Taekwondo is for my daughter to be able to break a boy’s nose with her elbow if she has to.

And now she can.

So how much farther do I push this? When should I just say, enough already?

It feels like I’m close to that point – at least with my daughter.

She’s not a kid anymore. She’s a young woman who knows what she likes and what she doesn’t. What she wants to pursue and what she doesn’t.

But the “dad” in me still can’t let them give up. I feel like if I leave them with nothing else in life, I have to leave them with the ability to defend themselves and others.

So they never feel like they can’t speak their mind or be themselves due to physical intimidation.

I’ve made a deal with my kids. If they become black belts, they can cut back their training to once a week.

I don’t know. Is this me taking the easy way out for my own convenience?

I just don’t know.


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