Monday, July 21, 1997

The Marching Band Fribble
by TMF Selena

Marching Bands and investing? Yup, that's right! If you think about it, there really are some parallels to be drawn.

I knew hardly anything about marching bands when I was challenged to write this Fribble, so I set about gathering some information. The first thing I learned was that there are four main components to marching bands: the music, the percussion, the drill, and the color guard. I pondered this, waiting for my muses to return from their lunch break.

In short order, I realized that a marching band is kind of like the commotion in the media surrounding stocks. Imagine for a moment that you're at a big football game. Perhaps the Connecticut Speedtrappers are playing the Rhode Island Quahogs in the annual Sugah Bowl. It's an exciting game, 77 to 67, and you're happily munching on a basket of fried clams while you down a cup of Narragansett Beer. And then, before you know it, it's half-time.

Meanwhile, in a perpendicular universe, you're home on a Tuesday morning, waking yourself up with a few cups of coffee, reading the business section of your local newspaper. (And hey -- now you can find The Motley Fool in many newspapers.) You turn on the TV and flip around until you reach The Business Network ("24-hours a day! Stocks! Bonds! Pork bellies and cattle futures!"). A commercial for anti-gas tablets ends and you're soon watching the "Stock Talk" segment.

The marching band, dressed in snappy uniforms with epaulets, led by a guy with tall feathers in his hat, takes center stage. On TV, a guy with a blue shirt and a white collar welcomes a few large-bellied gooroos, whose pants are held up by suspenders.

The band begins circling the field. The band members carry their instruments as they follow the prescribed formation. Brass and wind instruments dominate, complimented by plenty of percussion.

The gooroos are also quite brassy. And full of wind, too. High-pitched gooroos resemble piccolos, while deep-voiced gooroos are the trombones and tubas. "The market is looking kind of frothy, Stan." "I think that Consolidated Consonants (Nasdaq: KTZW) is a strong buy here." "We're not recommending Ungulatonics (Nasdaq: HOOF) at these levels, Frank, as hoofed firms seem kind of rich to us now." The voices, the instruments... all meld together somehow.

The music of the marching band is nice, but a big part of its appeal are the formations. Likewise, the talk of the pundits also often revolves around formations. "Standard Stalagtites (Nasdaq: DROP) is entering a parabolic phase right now." "We're very excited to see Marmot-Mart (Nasdaq: RDNT) breaking through resistance here." "Just look at this chart -- the technicals for Teutonix (NYSE: FRG) are very strong."

For those who can't hear or appreciate the music of the marching band, there's the color guard and drill team, communicating visually with flags and guns. Likewise, if you turn off the volume on your TV, you might see some gooroo flailing his arms about. Okay, probably not. The real parallel here is with the print media, which communicates visually.

Just as there are good marching bands and bad marching bands, there are different kinds of media approaches to discussing stocks and investing. Some strive to teach, while others seem to preach. When a band is really bad, it can be hard to tell what tune they're playing. Likewise, when some gooroos start prognosticating, it can be difficult to figure out what they're saying.

Although I'm admittedly biased, I liken Fooldom to a good marching band. Our wind and brass sections? The many, many voices in our message board community. Our percussion? The numbers released by companies, pop-popping every quarter, which we like to dissect and discuss. The drill team and color guard? Our writers and producers, who incorporate and complement the music with their own arrangements.

So there you have it -- the Marching Band Fribble arrives, mercifully, at its end. Fool on!

This has been another installment of Selena's ridiculous Fribbles. If you're a glutton for the absurd, check out:

The Hippo Feet Fribble

The Donner Party Fribble

The Pterodactyl Wing Fribble

The TV Guide Crossword Puzzle Fribble

The Lady and the Tramp Fribble

The Spellchecking Frizzle

The Burt Bacharach Fribble

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