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Geeky stuff

The Fishstick — Making it Mellow

As many of you know, I’m a virtual dance machine. (Emphasis on the “virtual.”)

That’s right, just get me fueled up with about 2-3 quarts of liquid rhythm and I’m an unstoppable ninja of jitterbug and jive. Whether it’s cranking that Soulja Boy or simply sliding electrically, one thing is for certain:

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. And damn right, it’s better than yours.

Some would suggest that I should charge for teaching you moves such as mine. But I see such efforts as a public service. I know I’m doing my part to make the world a more soulful place.

So today, we’ll start with the latest dance craze that’s sweeping the nation. That’s right, I’m talking about THE FISHSTICK. You may have heard about the Fishstick if you listen to You Look Nice Today. If you don’t listen to YLNT (and you are not my parents) you probably should.

So what IS the Fishstick, you say?

Well, it’s probably easier to describe what the Fishstick is not.

The Fishstick is not a “line dance.” You could perhaps do it while standing in a line. And perhaps everyone in that line may be doing the Fishstick. But unlike a “line dance” there is not, nor should there be, a coordination of the movements of the individuals present.

There are no “steps” to the Fishstick. The Fishstick is predominantly an intellectual pursuit. As Merlin Mann said while debuting the dance on YLNT, “the Fishstick is mostly happening in your head.”

The Fishstick is not flamboyant or flashy. It has a subtle grace. In fact, it may not be obvious. The Fishstick is often mistaken for spasms or slight seizures.

But really, haven’t we talked about the Fishstick enough? It’s probably better that I just show you.

Because the Fishstick is particularly mellow and limited range of motion is not an impediment to its exhibition, the Fishstick is well suited for performing while driving. Certainly more so than the Charleston.

So that’s the situation for this instructional clip. Follow along, if you’re feeling it.

Now would be an appropriate time to point out that there are several regional varieties of the Fishstick. The traditional music to which the Fishstick should be performed if doing the original “San Francisco Style” Fishstick is Tighten Up by Archie Bell and the Drells.

In North Texas, this would be a major faux pas. Up here we have a particular distaste for all things from Houston, the Drells’ home town, which is prominently mentioned in their version of the song. So performing to their version would be like showing up at Wrigley Field wearing a White Sox cap and t-shirt — a bad, bad idea. Therefore, in the greater Dallas area the Fishstick is commonly performed to the version of Tighten Up which appears on James Brown’s Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68 album.

I also realize that some of you are saying to yourselves, “Hey, I think this video has been edited! Can’t you show us the Fishstick in a single take?”

Good eyes, keen observer! You are absolutely right: This video has been edited. If you look closely, you may notice that I am driving a big, American pickup truck. Since this clip is nearly NINETY SECONDS LONG I had to stop for gas in the middle of the filming, so it only made sense to edit that out. I also stopped at Sonic for a delicious strawberry limeade. Proper hydration is key to a good Fishstick.