Investing In A Different Reality

When it comes to the stock market, never say never.

[Pro tip: If you’re reading this on a desktop/laptop/tablet, click the title above or the Lund Loop banner for the web version - a much better reading experience. -B]


Before we jump into things, a quick note for any of you in the Southern California area.

I’ll be speaking on a panel at the upcoming Trade Ideas Summit 2019 on October 26th in beautiful downtown San Diego.

This year’s venue is the University Club Atop Symphony Tower which has the sickest 360° degree view you’ll ever see.

If you’re in the area that weekend, come on out. It’s a great event with a real inclusive atmosphere. No matter if you’re a novice or a pro, you’ll enjoy this event.

Unfortunately, early bird ticket sales end today (August 31st), so if you’re interested, get on it.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled newsletter.


Could the stock market as we know it disappear one day?

Seems far-fetched, after all, an active stock market is the core of our free market system.

But looking back over the last 20 years, how many companies, products, even industries, that had previously stood the test of time, are now gone due to disruption?

Traditionally, when it comes to the world of finance, we think of disruption in the form of technology or regulation. But what if it’s neither of those, but a change in sentiment that kills the stock market?

The Business Roundtable is a group of 188 CEOs from the largest companies in America, chaired by Jamie Dimon. Each year this organization issues a statement they call “The Purpose of a Corporation,” – and for the past 50 years it has, in essence, echoed the sentiments of Milton Friedman;

The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.

But last week, that all changed.

According to the Business Roundtable, a corporation’s sole duty is no longer towards its shareholders, but now also to its customers, employees, community, and the environment.

Good stuff you might be thinking? It’s about time, right?

Sure, but what about the possible unintended consequences if this new corporate vision plays out?

In the simplest terms, investors buy or sell a stock based upon the underlying company’s profitability.

End of story.

In this new paradigm, where shareholder profits are no longer the sole focus, corporate management would have a much more subjective set of criteria with which to determine how they run their company.

For example, what happens if XYZ company has an annual profit of $2 billion, and the management decides that they don’t need to make that much? That they should be creating initiatives to benefit their employees, their customers, and the environment – which, though well-intentioned, will give them a profit of only $1 billion?

Would anybody buy that stock?

What if they think $500 million is enough profit? Or to take it to the extreme, what if, without any mandate to maximize shareholder value, they operate closer to a non-profit model?

Great for society. Not so great for your trading account or your 401k.

And there are examples we can look at to see how – though absent the altruistic motivation – the same financial mechanics have worked in the past.

Take Amazon, for example. For years, by choosing to use revenue to build out infrastructure, management made the conscious decision to be unprofitable. And for years, their stock price went nowhere.

But that strategy was still designed to create long-term value for shareholders, and once they chose to flip the switch, profits took off, and along with it, Amazon’s stock price.

But if Amazon were to adopt the philosophies of the roundtable, they could just as easily redirect profits towards other agendas. And if they did, what do you think would happen to their stock price?

Here’s what Mark Zuckerberg said in November of 2017;

"We're serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We're investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits."

Investors wrote this off as corporate BS, and Facebook’s share price kept rising until their Q2 2018 earnings call when they saw for the first time that Zuck wasn’t kidding and profits really were going to get hit.

Their stock dropped 20% overnight and 43% over the next five months. Facebook did the right thing for its users, but its shareholders suffered.

The stock only recovered once investors were convinced this one-off diversion of profits had an end in sight. But what if the diversion was perpetual?

Altria is widely considered the best performing stock over the last 50 years. The company achieved this feat by dealing death to their customers – and in the process produced a 663,700% total return for their shareholders.

If we had the power, who wouldn’t erase this company from history, along with all the cancer, disease, and costs it brought about? But it’s not that simple. You’d also be erasing hundreds of billions in shareholder gains.

Ideally, there’s a middle ground between killing your customers for profit and making no profit at all. But using this new corporate philosophy, it now gets much more subjective as to where you draw the line.

If you’re an auto manufacturer and you could make your car safer, but at a cost that eats into your profit, how far do you go? Twenty percent safer for 20% less profit? If you could make your cars 100% safer, but only at break-even, do you do it?

Like you, I would love to live in a corporate utopia, but I also know that most everybody reading this right now has a huge chunk of their net worth – and potential net worth – invested in financial instruments that only go up in value if the underlying businesses they are tied to continue to increase their profitability over time.

The alternative is a market of zombie stocks. Think Microsoft from 2000 to 2015, when the company was massively profitable, but not profitable enough for shareholders to get any return.

Ultimately, this is not a discussion about ethics or about being a good corporate citizen; it’s about understanding that all actions, no matter how well-intentioned, have consequences. It’s about understanding trade-offs and entering into them with eyes wide open.

Anyway, the initial reaction to the roundtable’s announcement from those on either side of the aisle leads me to believe that nothing may change after all.

The left continues pushing their “evil corporation” mantra, claiming this is just lip service and that CEOs will keep focusing only on profits. And the right views this as a sea change, driven by the forces of socialism, designed to destroy our capitalist way of life.

In my experience, when both sides think they’re getting screwed, nobody’s getting screwed.

Investors like to fall back on the fact that on average, the stock market returned 10% annually over the last 100 years. The implication is that time heals everything. With enough time, returns will eventually come.

And that the stock market will always be there to deliver those returns

But you can never say never when it comes to the stock market.

Nobody thought the market could drop 23% in a day. Or that a 158-year old bank could fail. Or that GE could lose 90% of its value.

And nobody thinks it could all just go away.

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MARKET REVIEW

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*Click any chart to enlarge. Please read disclosures at the bottom of this page.

Despite the major stock indexes snapping a four-week losing streak and posting solid gains, this week was pretty much a snoozer from a technical standpoint as we continue to move in a range.

In fact, if you just decided to skip down to the “Life” section I wouldn’t blame you.

Still here? Okay.

The market is basically waiting - for what, we don’t know.

It could be for seasonality to kick in, a la, sell in May and go away, and come back blah, blah, blah.

Or, it could be waiting for Sir Itchy Finger’s next synapse misfire and the tweet it inspires.

More likely, the wait continues to be on the elephant in the room - the resolution of tariffgate.

Speaking of which, here’s a really interesting take from my friend Leigh Drogen on how the combination of low interest rates and a resolution of the trade wars could be rocket fuel for the market.

*Click to see the whole thread

And here’s a take by another friend, Joe Fahmy, as to what the market needs to do to get moving in the short-term. Joe wrote this midday on Wednesday, and so far, his scenario is playing out perfectly.

*Click to see the whole thread

Good stuff. Now let’s get to the unexciting charts….

S&P 500 Index (SPX)

The SPX continues to be range-bound, as indicated by the shaded box. The longer this sideways price action continues the better, increasing the odds of a breakout on good volume succeeding.

This week price closed above three of the four major moving averages, which is good. But there’s really nothing to see until we resolve this range - one way or another.

NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX)

I’m so bored I’m drawing random shapes on charts, as you can see here with NDX.

Price continues to cluster around the long-term trendline, and like SPX, there’s nothing to see here yet.

Apple (AAPL)

Alway the strongest, AAPL continues to hold above all four major MAs.

Amazon (AMZN)

Though in a range, AMZN continues to look weak to me. If the market resolves things to the downside, this would be a good short on a break lower.

Facebook (FB)

FB is doing that thing where it “kisses” the bottom of a broken trendline.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)

The DJIA looks marginally stronger as it tries to move out of the top of its range. But with only 30 stocks in this index, it’s almost irrelevant. I only show this chart because my grandmother reads the Lund Loop.

Hi grandma!

Russell 2000 ETF (IWM)

Per Joe’s tweet above, this could be the most significant thing that happened this week.

For the fourth time since the start of the year, IWM tested support, and support held. This is important because it’s the broadest index we follow. Now I’d just like to see it move up and start re-capturing MAs like a boss.

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM)

Speaking of re-capturing, that’s what EEM did this week, re-capturing a support level, though it too is still in a range.

S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX)

Trouble Will Robinson!

That’s what I’d think when looking at the VIX if I was born in the late 50’s.

But since I wasn’t, I just think “shit!”

Because we’re forming what looks like a bull flag. And a break out above the top of this pattern would be bad for the market.

iShares Trust China Large-Cap ETF (FXI)

Just consolidation here in FXI.

Financial Sector SPDR (XLF)

XLF held support and re-captured a couple of MAs, which is good.

SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB)

XHB continues to show good relative strength. And even though it broke a trendline a while back, it was a particularly steep one to begin with.

VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH)

SMH is still above that long-term trendline and now back above all four major moving averages. 👏👏👏

US Dollar Currency Index (DXY)

CBOE Interest Rate 10-Year T-Note (TNX)

Nothing of note going on (technically) with DXY and TNX this week.

SPDR Gold Trust (GLD)

GLD continues its high-level consolidation.

iShares Silver Trust (SLV)

SLV tacked on 4.89% this week and is up almost 16% since we first flagged it here in early July.

If you took that trade, your Lund Loop subscription would be paid through your kid’s lifetime. Just saying…

West Texas Oil (WTIC)

Oil is still in this range, but it’s getting narrower by the day.

ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ)

After shooting out of the bottom of this down channel - I still can’t believe this - MJ bounced off a long-term support level.

I’m not too optimistic about this dysfunctional industry right now, but the first sign that things were turning around would be to recapture the channel.

Bitcoin (BTC)

Sitting at the bottom of this ascending triangle, Bitcoin looks like it’s going to roll over, but it hasn’t broken support yet.

Fundamental Facts:

  • S&P 500 +2.79%, Dow +3.02%, Nasdaq +2.72% and the Russell 2000 +2.42%.

  • The best asset class returns this week were Mid-Cap Value (+2.94% ) and the worst were Non-U.S. Bonds (-0.35% ).

  • Potential market-moving data next week: August jobs reports (Fri).

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TRADING & INVESTING

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*Click any chart to enlarge. Please read disclosures at the bottom of this page.

There were no new setups last week, but let’s follow up on some recent picks.

Campbell Soup Co. (CPB)

Two weeks ago I wrote this;

Hey look, it’s Campbell Soup.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz……😴

But technicals are technicals, and the technicals of this chart say that a big trend change could be happening.

After breaking a two-year downtrend, this stock has rallied and is consolidating in a rounded pattern.

If it breaks above the nearby resistance level, chances are the trend has changed. Again, if it plays out as scripted, this will be a long, slow trade that should give you plenty of time to scale in.

Last week, CPB broke out, starting an initial long position. Then on Friday, the stock gapped up, and moved as much as 14% higher intraday - before the selling kicked in, leaving us with one of the longest, most aggressively ugly inverted doji candles I’ve ever seen. 😂😂😂

The stock still ended up 3.98% for the day, but ugh!

Let’s give it time to see if it keeps moving in the right direction, but if it comes back in below Wednesday’s close, I’d cut it loose.

Northrop (NOC)

NOC has shown some great relative strength and is up 32.5% since we first flagged the trend change back in May.

Now it’s taking a rest in this uptrend, basing above the 21-day MA. A breakout on good volume would give you another bite at the apple or an opportunity to add.


You know what really sucks? When your newsletter promises setups and they’re none to be found.

You know what sucks more? Forcing setups because your newsletter promises setups.

One of the secrets of trading is patience, and the ability to say “no” to setups until they’re compelling enough to say “yes.”

Until the indexes resolve their ranges, the cupboard will likely be bare in terms of setups.

But when things change, you’ll see them here first.

In the meantime, check out some resources from my list;

20 Books Every Trader Should Read


Markets, Trading & Finance Links:

  • Sell in May and go away, and come back on St. Leger’s Day. That’s the old saying. But St. Leger’s Day is September 12th. And September is the worst month for the stock market. (Almanac Trader)

  • This is so good. Investing lessons from three weeks of fatherhood. (BPS and Pieces)

  • Quotes from Warren Buffett only get better in Infographic form. Here’s 25 of them. (Visual Capital)

  • Writing will make you a better trader. Apparently a better hedge fund manager as well. (Institutional Investor)

  • The big banks are outsourcing high-frequency trading - to a little black box. (The Wall Street Journal)

  • This is a really cool way to evaluate your trading. What if you had to pitch your trading as a business? (Trader Feed)

  • Yo, Millennials - and divorced Gen X traders. Guess where you’re most likely to get scammed? Here’s a hint: Swipe right for “yes,” swipe left for “no.” (Business Insider)

  • I think political beliefs and markets don’t mix. But that doesn’t mean I won’t present an opposing viewpoint. (Fat Tailed and Happy)

  • Will Millennials get destroyed in the next recession. Mentally? 100%. Financially? Opinions vary. (A Wealth of Common Sense)

  • Fake gold bars. Who makes them and how do they get into the world’s supply? This is a pretty cool article. (Reuters)

  • Fractional ownership has come to the art world. (Wealth Management.com)

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LIFE

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I view myself as someone who resists clichés, but respects traditions. So when my buddies suggested we throw my bachelor party in Las Vegas, being the traditionally minded guy I am, I agreed.

For about two decades, a group of us had been making the 45-minute flight to Sin City on an annual basis, but this time, in honor of my pending nuptials, we expanded the guest list.

It was a dicey move, and I wasn’t sure how it would affect the group dynamics, as our crew had developed a tried and true formula for doing Vegas.

Nothing wastes more time or breeds more discontentment than continually trying to find consensus among a large group of guys. To combat this, you can do one of two things – plan everything out to the last details, or, plan nothing.

So when we went on our regular Vegas trips, the plan was simple – there was no plan.

The only thing on the books was dinner and cigars at Del Frisco’s on Saturday night, but that was optional. The rest of the weekend was allowed to unfold organically, most often taking the form of a core group sticking together with individuals continuously peeling off and rejoining the fold.

Some hit the pool or the poker table, while others hunkered down at the sportsbook or in a strip club. Everyone had something they gravitated to – in my case, church – and that dynamic even extended to food.

Amongst our crew, the buffets were popular. So was room service. Some guys – the hardcore gamblers – would just hold out as long as they could, then grab a slice of pizza, throw it down their throat, and go back to the felt without missing a bet.

And of course, others just stuck to a liquid diet, proclaiming, “there’s a sandwich in every beer.”

I hoped that this same attitude would prevail on my bachelor weekend, but there was one problem.

Ron.

I met Ron in my sophomore year of high school and we became fast friends. And the first time I went to Vegas was with Ron, who at that time had lots of experience, mainly at gambling.

“Just do what I do,” he said as we sidled up to the craps table.

And with that, he started barking out bets like a pro.

 “Give me the yo-eleven,” he shouted, tossing a $5 chip towards the stickman.

“Yeah, I’ll take the ‘yalenven’ too,” I said, throwing out a 50¢ chip

Then he turned to the boxman and yelled, I want the ‘hard four and eight’ and ‘four on the field.’”

“Yeah, ‘the field,’” I echoed.

Ron looked so experienced, so worldly, and I was having a great time parroting everything he said.

Fast forward a few years, and his act was wearing thin.

Why?

The best explanation I can give is that I, or we, my other friends and I, had outgrown him.

For example, by this time, Ron was making decent money, but he always wanted to stay at the dollar craps table, where he could still pretend he was a god of gambling.

And he’d do annoying things, like dragging us across town to use his ‘50% off’ coupon on all you can eat shrimp.

Frankly, He was too much work, and worse, a buzzkill. Nevermore so than on our last trip.

Things started great, as our whole group ended up at the same craps table – a rare occurrence.  

Chips were flying, booze was flowing, the dice were hot, and we were all making money. The table had a vibe to it, palpable energy that shot through the players, making it feel as if we were levitating just above the cigarette stained carpet.

And for once in my life, I was at that table. The table everyone envied. The table where everyone wanted to be.

Then it all went bad. Real bad. Ronnie bad.

Getting left behind in the betting, and desperate to salvage his wounded ego, he grabbed two $10 chips and gave them a sideways toss towards the felt as if throwing the keys of a Maybach to a valet.

Then he uttered those fatal words, “Twenty dollars on ‘skinny-red.’”

The box man looked puzzled for a moment, then said, “what do you want this on?”

Ron, trying to look aloof, repeated, “skinny-red.”

“I’ve never heard of skinny-red,” the boxman replied.

“What, you’ve never heard of skinny-red,” asked Ron, with a smarmy air.

At this point, the boxman looked at the stickman and asked incredulously, “Dave, have you ever heard the term ‘skinny-red’ before,” knowing the answer before he asked it.

“No, Dan. Can’t say that I have” came the reply.

By now the other players had their bets down and were anxious for the next roll, to keep the table’s mojo going. Even as a relative newbie to the game, I knew my friend was treading on thin ice.

I gave him the “why don’t you just tell them the goddamn number you want” glance, but he looked right through me.

“I can’t believe you’ve never heard of ‘skinny-red’ before,” he said while taking a sip from his drink and pretending he still looked cool.

The stickman now motioned to the pit boss who’d been observing this slow-motion train wreck from the periphery.

“Hey Max, have you ever heard the term ‘skinny-red’ before?”

“You know, I have been in the business for twenty-five years, and I’ve never heard that term before,” the pit boss replied.

Now I gave Ron a look designed to paralyze, or perhaps cause him to pass out. But apparently, I had no such superpower.

“What?” he continued with a bluster. “Everybody knows that’s what they call ‘twelve’ in Hawaii.”

Have you ever heard that screeching sound tires make when a driver hits the brakes unexpectedly, bringing their vehicle a dead stop? At that moment I swear this was the sound I heard.

What had just moments before been a lively, energetic, and fun table was now a morgue, complete with a dozen sets of dead, angry eyes staring right at Ronnie – and the rest of us as well.

“Really? I didn’t know they had gambling in Hawaii?” said Max, looking straight at us, with not a trace of amusement on his face.

When things finally got sorted, and the shooter threw the dice, you guessed it, he sevened out.

By the time I made out my bachelor party list, I hadn’t been to Vegas with Ron in over ten years. But he was a groomsman, so against my better judgment, I invited him.

----

I’m a man. This is neither a boast nor an apology, just a fact.

And as a multi-dimensional human being, I’m able to empower my daughter, support women’s rights, call out the dipshits and douchebags of my gender, while still encouraging, even cherishing an exclusively male type of relationship with my buddies.

It’s not one designed to exclude or offend anybody, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that when a stranger is present, we change our dynamic.

For example, I don’t curse in the presence of women. Nor when children, the elderly, or even other guys who don’t share a common history and context with me are around. I have to know my audience so well, so intimately, to be comfortable enough with them before that happens - which is the only reason you’ll see an occasional f-bomb in these stories.

And one of my favorite things about the relationships I have with my close male friends is the verbal shorthand we’ve developed over the years. Those words and phrases we’ve distilled from shared experiences, to which nobody else can relate.

Our group vernacular is often so nuanced, obscure, or event-specific that to even attempt to explain their meanings to an “outsider” is pointless. But allow me to try.

On Netscape

Back before everybody was a tech savant, there was a time when some people understood technology and some people didn’t. Those who didn’t were likely older, and in many cases, they were your parents.

So out of the goodness of your heart, you’d get them set up on their computer, fix the paper jam on their printer, or teach them how to get online. And then you were screwed. Because from that moment on, you were now in-house tech support.

Then when the slightest problem arose, they’d hit speed dial, and you’d be stuck trying to teach them how to do something simple, like formatting a floppy disk – which would take an hour to do by phone.

Scenarios like this frequently happened between my buddy Chris and his elderly father. And one day his dad called him up for help on getting to a particular website.

Chris tried everything he could to direct his dad to the site he wanted - from using search to typing in the URL directly - but for some reason, his father couldn’t figure it out, and Chris could tell he was losing patience.

This was the mid-90s, when, up until recently, the only way to access the World Wide Web was through online services like America Online, CompuServe, or Prodigy - “walled gardens” that didn’t integrate with each other - and most people didn’t yet understand that web browsers such as Internet Explorer and Netscape didn’t have such limitations.

At one point, Chris told his father to hit the refresh button on “Internet Explorer,” upon which hearing this his father, frustrated and looking for any way to end the ordeal with a modicum of respect, stated, “Oh, that’s the problem. I’m on Netscape.”

This phrase and variations of it are now used to shiv a pal when they are having trouble figuring something out, mainly, but not exclusively tech-related.

If you send a link to your friend three times and he still says he can’t open it, an appropriate response would be, “Are you on Netscape?”

Or if a group of you are at a buddies’ house to watch the fights, and he’s fumbling with the remote, trying to figure out how to order pay-per-view. That would be the time to say, “Maybe it’s on Netscape?”

It even works if someone’s trying to pump gas and is having trouble getting the nozzle to hook into the gas tank. That’s when you say, “It’s probably on Netscape.”

From the Rail

In a poker room, the tables are usually arraigned around a central sunken area, and around the perimeter is a raised wooden rail where spectators can watch.

But it’s also where alcoholics and degenerate gamblers congregate after they go bust.

Good players are never on the rail. They’re still playing. Or have gone back to work to raise another stake.

The rail is where all the bad beat stories are told. The “whoa is me” stories. It’s where the “railbirds” stand and give those still playing their sage, unsolicited advice.

It’s also where you’ll find the brother of one of our group. He’s a good guy but suffers from the delusion that he’s an excellent poker player who, if it weren’t for bad luck – about 20 years’ worth now – would be killing it.

And despite his unlucky streak, he’s always willing to tell you how to play a hand – from the rail.

This has spawned the practice of giving tongue-in-cheek advice or suggestions, offered in the second-person point of view, which that person either can’t or won’t take themselves – and is always punctuated with the separate, but self-referencing tagline.

You’re at a concert, and there are three massive, football player types standing up and blocking your pal’s view, so you say to him, “If I were you, I’d tell them to sit down, or you’ll kick their ass…. from the rail.”

Or while your friend is trying to decide what to do on a crucial hand, you text him, “I’d go over the top of him and shove all-in…. from the rail.”

Sometimes the phrase even turns ironic when it’s to the benefit of the imaginary second person, as in, “I’m a little short today, but if you’re going to the store, pick up a 12-pack…from the rail.”

Helloooo? (Did You Already Make Your Money?)

When we were all in our mid-20s, a member of our group, Tom, worked for Virgin Atlantic. His job was to meet the morning flight from Heathrow at LAX, which was packed with Brits who’d purchased a package vacation.

Tom would greet the guest, arrange transport to their hotels, and try to upsell them with add-ons, like tickets to Disneyland or a Dodgers game. He was usually finished by 10:45 am, and as he was commission-based, could then decide what he wanted to do for the rest of the day.

One option was to call on other package vacation guests at their respective hotels to see if he could interest them in shows, excursions, or side-trips – all of which would earn him more money.

The other option was to go home for the day and sleep, which, more often than not was what he chose to do. So if you had a break at work during the day and called to leave him a message about going out that night, he’d usually pick up.

“Helloooo?” you’d hear him answer, in a genuinely groggy voice that sounded like Ferriss Bueller pretending he’s sick.

Shocked that he was home – and sleeping – at noon, you’d say, “Hey, Tom. What are you doing home?”

To which he’d respond like clockwork, “I already made my money for the day.”

To this day, if I answer a call from one of my friends in mid-drink, without clearing my throat, or in any way that minutely delays the greeting or causes my voice to sound hoarse, I’ll instantly get, “Hellooooo? Did you make your money already?”

But in an ironic twist, that same phrase initially used to ridicule a twenty-five-year-old, who, during the middle of the day should be out busting his ass to make something of himself, is now turning into a badge of honor for us 50-somethings who have already put in decades of hard work and earned the occasional midday respite.

“Hey, buddy, what’s going on.”

“Nothing, I’m just watching some Netflix. I already made my money.”

Broccoli Report

If you try to overanalyze the origin and meaning of this one, it will never make sense. That’s because it doesn’t make sense, instead, relying on a verbal cadence and absurd mental imagery to make its impact.

It was coined by an acquaintance named Shep, who is peripheral to, but not a part of, our core group. However, his instinctual ability to create a term that fit the situation so perfectly will always make him an honorary member in my book.

Shep had come into town for a conference, and a few of us met up with him for lunch. After finishing, we sat around catching each other up on things and people – one of which was my friend’s brother, and Shep’s cousin Matt.

At that point in his life, Matt had bounced from one part-time job to another. He didn’t seem to have any plan for his life, nor was he motivated to develop one. And when I’d occasionally ask my buddy what the latest was with his brother, he’d always say, “Nothing, just the same old thing.”

So when Shep inquired about Matt, my buddy gave the same answer, “Nothing, just the same old thing,” to which he instantly replied, “Yeah, Broccoli Report.”

We were all stone-cold sober, but for some reason we broke out in laughter at the term, like we knew what it meant without knowing what it meant.

“Broccoli Report?” somebody said through their tears.

“Yeah, broccoli,” Shep laughed. “You know, it just sits there on the counter and doesn’t do anything.”

Forevermore, the term now refers to someone stuck in neutral, with no desire to move forward or change the circumstances of their life.

“Hey, I saw Bill last night at the club.”

“Really? What’s he up to?”

“Eh, you know Bill.”

“Broccoli Report?”

“Yep, broccoli.”

Hiiiiiii….

Though we write it without them, this term should really have a few “e’s” on the end, as in Hiiiiiiieeeee…

This is my favorite term. I probably say it at least once every day, even if it’s just to myself.

I don’t know where it came from, and it’s almost impossible to explain the meaning.

It has some characteristics of Ed McMahon’s “Hiyoooo!” in its DNA, but it’s a fully formed term of its own.

The best that I can do is say that it’s about understanding the irony or stupidity of situations you find yourself or somebody else in and dismissing them with a cathartic verbal tick. For example;

“So guess who just bought two new Sea-Doos?”

“Who?”

“My brother.”

“The one who is like $100K in debt.”

“Yep.”

“Hiiiiiiii………”

Or better still;

“Hey Bill, where are you?”

“Grabbing a drink at the bar.”

“How is it over there?”

“Well, I was just sitting here, and a group of models sat down next to me. They said they were going out partying and asked if I wanted to come with them?”

“But didn’t you just get back together with Cindy last week?”

“Yep, that’s why I’m still sitting here. Hiiiiiiiiii…….”

----

A Ronnie

Ron came to my bachelor party. And as I feared, he unknowingly rubbed everyone the wrong way.

He started off on the wrong foot by telling everyone he was staying at a different hotel because he got a deal. And he didn’t do himself any favors by suggesting we all go see a show.

But the real thing that did Ron in was his relentless inquiry about “the plan.”

“What’s the plan,” he’d say as everyone crowded around a blackjack table.

“We’re gambling Ron, that’s the plan.”

“What’s the plan,” he’d say as we were kicking back in the pool, downing beers.

“To drink beer in the pool, Ron, that’s the plan.”

What’s the plan,” he’d say as we had scotch and cigars at Del Frisco’s.

“The plan is never to invite you anywhere again Ron,” that’s the plan.

I haven’t seen or heard from Ron for a good ten years now, and I don’t anticipate that I ever will again.

Still, he’s a regular part of my life as his name gets brought up all the time by my friends.

“How was your vacation with the in-laws?

“A disaster.”

“Really, why? I thought you got along good with them?

“I do. But I’ve never traveled with them before.”

“Ah, a lot of work?”

“Yeah. On our first day on the island, my father-in-law sits us all down at breakfast and pulls ‘a Ronnie.’”

“No way?”

“Yep. He wanted to know what the plan was?”


It’s Good, It’s Good

  • Here’s that one story you’ll want to read. What is it like to be a professional safecracker? (The Atlantic)

  • The story behind the infamous “ball-in-crotch” baseball card. (ESPN)

  • None of the cast dies while making The Wizard of Oz. But not for lack of trying. (Vanity Fair)

  • Book hoarders are going against the decluttering craze. Love this! (Independent)

  • When libraries are tourist attractions. Love this too. (The New York Times)

  • Cooties. Dingbat. Zigzag. I’ll take “Terms that came out of WWI Alex.” (Mental Floss)

  • First, let me tell you that Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special Sticks & Stones is fan-fucking-tastic. Second, forgive me for linking to this site, but this article is the best explanation of “why.” (Breitbart)

  • Ralph Whittington, the world’s greatest collector of erotica - c’mon, porn - has died. (The Washington Post)

  • Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system. I find this terribly problematic. (Fast Company)

  • It took 25 years, but everybody finally hates Friends. It’s about time. (BuzzFeed)

  • The headline says it all: Porsche’s Type 64 Nazi Car Fails to Sell Amid Auction Blunder. (Bloomberg)

  • Okay, here’s that other one story you’ll want to read. Zombie parasites. Need I say more? (National Geographic)

  • An iconic piece of land high atop Los Angeles that was once listed for $1 billion sold last week for $100,000. Doh! (Robb Report)

  • A dog park divides the rich and powerful in Chevy Chase, Maryland. (The Washington Post)

  • Why do people still fall for viral hoaxes, besides being idiots? (Wired)

  • All 180 Rush songs ranked worst to best. And no, “Tom Sawyer” is not #1. (Thrillist)

———————————

Thanks for reading this week’s edition of The Lund Loop.

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-B

P.S. It should go without saying - but I’ll say it anyway - all opinions expressed here in The Lund Loop are my own personally and don’t reflect the views of my employer, any associated entities, or other organizations I’m associated with.

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