Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
March 2, 2017
First appeared in print in The Rhino Times
, Greensboro, NC.
Tarzan, Whale, Eagle, Switch, Fig, Salmon
What with the childish political speeches at various award shows earlier in the year, my wife and
I canceled our annual Oscar party in favor of seeing, with friends, our two favorite movies of
the year -- La La Land and Arrival -- the weekend before the Oscars.
But this past Sunday night, though my wife had set the Oscars to record on our TiVo, we decided
to start watching it. Just to see if it was as bad as we expected.
Naturally, we were there till the end.
It wasn't that the show didn't have any annoying or cloying political content -- there was some,
though none of it was hateful. What kept us watching was (a) it was the Oscars, for heaven's
sake, and (b) Jimmy Kimmel's cheerful, dry humor pervaded the proceedings.
Kimmel, in his normal self-effacing way, wasn't even in the opening number. Instead, the show
began with Justin Timberlake singing and dancing through the audience. This was only the
beginning of the evening's excellent musical presentations of the Oscar-nominated songs.
The only music that wasn't an Oscar tune was Sara Bareilles's haunting performance of Joni
Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" during the tasteful and balanced "In Memoriam" -- worth
watching and hearing:
Between Kimmel's mock feud with Matt Damon, his ironic disrespecting of Meryl Streep, the
candy and cookies that were dropped from the ceiling in little parachutes to land on the audience
of luminaries, and the tour bus of civilians who were told they were going to see a display of
"Oscar gowns" (a promise which was certainly fulfilled by bringing them right down to meet the
front row of the Oscar audience), there was no lack of genuine good-natured humor.
There were also nice touches, like having a few prominent actors in video interviews in which
they talked about the person in the industry who influenced them most -- and then bringing that
actor and his or her role model onto the stage together to present an award.
It was obvious that, after the hate and bile that have marred every Hollywood event since
Trump's election, somebody decreed that the Oscars should be about "bringing people
together." The result was a surprisingly uncontentious show, so that several times during the
evening my wife and I ruefully commented on the fact that we shouldn't have canceled our Oscar
party -- it would have been fine.
There were the normal number of embarrassing speeches, like Viola Davis's weirdly
overwrought and angry speech that more or less echoed the most famous lines in Thomas
Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," except without wit, clarity, or eloquence.
Gray's "Elegy" was once learned by heart and recited by schoolchildren throughout the English-speaking world, with its observation that in the graveyard were many who, having lived in
obscurity, never had a chance to accomplish the great things they might have been capable of.
"Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre."
And the tag line that encapsulates it all:
"Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest."
The tone of the poem is wistful, regretful, and full of respect for people who live in obscurity
because they were caught up in the simple life.
Gray's tone, in his own words, "Implores the passing tribute of a sigh." Viola Davis, by contrast,
was going for a standing ovation and a huge emotional outpouring; but despite her talent she isn't
actress enough to have learned that if you want your audience to feel emotional, the
performer should not wear out all the emotion on the stage.
Of course, the highlight of the evening was the astonishing error by the people who stuffed the
envelopes back at the accounting firm, or the people who handed them to the presenters: Warren
Beatty and Faye Dunaway, in announcing the last award of the night, opened the envelope to
find, not the Best Picture winner, but the already-announced Best Actress winner, Emma Stone,
with the name of her film, La La Land.
It looked as if Warren Beatty was simply goofing around when he looked at the card and didn't
read it out. Instead, he showed it to Dunaway, who then called out the only film title on the card:
La La Land.
The whole troupe of producers and creative people from La La Land clustered on the stage and
were just starting to gush their happiness and thanks. But there were a bunch of guys in suits
running back and forth behind them, which was distracting and weird.
Then one of the La La Land producers interrupted and took control of the mike. He announced
that the real best-picture winner was not La La Land, but the emotionally-charged coming-of-age movie Moonlight. "This is not a joke," he said. The La La Land team was politely ushered
off the stage while the Moonlight team arrived.
Moonlight and La La Land were both credible Oscar winners -- they had won Golden Globe
awards this year in their separate categories. And Moonlight, based on the play In Moonlight
Black Boys Look Blue, was an independent movie -- the kind that Oscar voters like to award
whenever they can, as a tiny gesture of defiance against the big-budget studio movies.
But I'm going to talk about the elephant in the room: This is the first "asterisk year" after the
triumph of the ugly racist #OscarsSoWhite campaign from last year.
You'll recall that for two years, running, the nominees for the four acting awards had all been
white. There was no reason to think any racism was involved in this at all, because most roles
are white, and it's not at all unlikely that in any year, the top five nominated performances would
happen to be by white actors.
Never mind that there were probably hundreds of nominating ballots that had the names of black
actors on them. For all we know, the sixth through ninth names in the nominating tally were
black. It just happened that the five that got the most votes those years weren't black.
Any year in which one black performer is nominated in any category is, demographically
speaking, less than likely: African-Americans are only about 12 percent of the population, and
each nomination represents 20 percent of the total in a category. Blacks have been
nominated fairly proportionately, on average, during the years since the film industry began
giving black actors leading roles.
The film industry, for all the racism inherent in early movies, was always way ahead of the
general culture in terms of racial egalitarianism.
In other words, #OscarsSoWhite was not going to remedy an actual problem, it was merely going
to punish the Academy Awards for not filling a racial quota every year.
Naturally, the Academy did what terrified Americans do in this era of the Inquisition.
When charges of racism are leveled, nobody dares to say that they're ridiculous, unfair, untrue,
and contrary to all evidence.
Instead, the Academy did something that really was unfair: It selected, using some criteria --
most likely age and race -- a bunch of older Academy members, declared them "emeritus," and
took away their right to nominate and vote for the Oscars.
Since the balloting has been secret in recent decades, they had no way of knowing if any of these
individuals had a pattern of nominating and voting only for white actors. Instead, they were
punished because their age group was assumed to be old-fashioned and racist. Because you
know those things about people as soon as you know their age and race.
Never mind that these old people were possibly the very ones whose voting had originally
broken the color barriers decades ago. Never mind that the Academy is supposed to consist of
people with proven accomplishments in the film industry -- not just people who vote correctly or
are young enough to still be "cool." Now all the good work they did in the film business has
been tossed out for reasons of pure prejudice.
Of course, the real transformation in Oscar results would not come from removing these people
from the nomination and voting process. In all likelihood, their removal would make zero
difference in outcomes because Hollywood's lingering racism is entirely among studio
executives who imagine that the general public -- you know, us -- are racist and therefore won't
accept this or that black actor in this or that role, or won't greenlight a picture that seems to
appeal only to the black audience so it won't make back the money spent to make it.
The real change in Oscar voting is that all the people who still nominate and vote found out that
if you don't have black actors nominated every year, heads will roll.
All the Oscar voters this year had a gun to their heads: Black nominees and winners or you'll lose
your status as an Oscar voter!
How did it work out? Of twenty acting nominations, six -- 30 percent -- went to black
actors. Now that's affirmative action, folks. Of course, Hispanics make up almost exactly the
same proportion of the population as African-Americans, and I don't think they were represented
But Asian-Americans did fine -- at nearly five percent of the population, they were entitled to
one nomination, and they got it, with Dev Patel nominated for supporting actor in Lion.
All of this is absurd, though, because the Oscars are supposed to be awarded for excellence, not
according to a quota system. The real problem is that studio executives have been slow to
greenlight films with nonwhites and non-anglos in leading roles.
In other words, honest voting will distribute awards perfectly fairly, over the long term -- as
soon as there's a fair distribution of leading roles for actors of different races. Hollywood works
very hard to achieve this result, as long as they can do it without making executives tremble at
the prospect of financial risk.
So you get lots and lots of African-American best friends and Asian computer whizzes and
Hispanic doctors ... or whatever. Whenever a role can be "safely" cast with a "minority," it is.
Not only that, but to avoid tokenism, those parts are beefed up, given clever things to say or
brave things to do.
But those are not best-actor or best-actress roles -- that only loads up the supporting categories.
As soon as you have a movie where the leading performers are black, executives panic. This
despite the fact that black actors routinely make huge box office, in the U.S. and abroad. Nobody
doubts that black actors can open a big-budget film, because, you know, Will Smith, Jamie
Foxx, Kevin Hart, Denzel, and ...
Yeah, that's the list. Plus a lot of excellent black actors who play powerful roles that are just a
half-inch off the lead. And there aren't all that many white actors who can open a big-budget
movie. And as actors age, they stop being able to pull in the box-office take that allows studio
executives to sleep at night.
But this situation has been getting better every decade. Twenty years ago, Will Smith was
believed to need a white co-star; now we know he doesn't. And the Fast and Furious franchise
has always been multi-racial, with no complaints from the audience as the box office take
started high and, except for Tokyo Drift, has steadily increased -- from the $200 million level to
a billion and a half on Furious 7.
The multiracial cast is getting the kind of money that most actors dream of. But there ain't gonna
be no Oscars for performances in Fast and Furious movies, not because they don't require good
acting -- they do, and the acting is very good -- but because Oscar nominations are biased
toward weepy or shouty dramatic roles. Or characters with flamboyant handicaps. Or characters
with lives of unending woe.
So every Oscar voter this year knew they had to get "diverse" results, period.
Now, everybody's response to this situation was going to be different. Some would be defiant
and vote their true opinion of the performances. They would be careful to see all the "serious"
black movies (i.e., not by Tyler Perry) so they could consider them, but they would absolutely
refuse to vote according to some kind of quota system.
But there was not one Oscar voter who did not think long and hard about the race of each actor
they nominated and voted for. And not one of them could be sure that race did not influence
their voting decisions.
Oscar voting isn't rocket science. You can't calculate anything; there are no firm standards you
can apply in comparing different acting performances. So feelings -- including, most especially,
the unconscious effects of knowing that a "bad" outcome might cost you your vote -- play a
huge role in the nominating and voting decisions.
As far as I know, every nominee this year deserved to be nominated, and every nominee would
have made a credible Oscar winner. But that was also true last year, and the year before -- the
years of #OscarSoWhite.
And many of the agitators admitted this -- yes, those performances by white actors in 2014 and
2015 were certainly Oscar-worthy. But then, they would say, so were performances by list-of-black-actors-and-actresses.
In the world of sanity, there are always at least as many Oscar-worthy actors who are not
nominated as there are on the list of nominees.
The system was basically fair before the Inquisition got its hand on the process and permanently
corrupted it. Until this year, people nominated and voted according to whatever private standard
they used to decide which performances were "best." It was completely subjective, but
performers of different races were usually nominated in recent years.
It looked to everybody who wasn't eager to be offended like a fair and honest process. It wasn't
the Oscars that needed reforming, it was Hollywood's funding and casting systems that
needed to be fixed. And that was already changing because of changes in the values of the
people making the decisions.
The Oscars weren't broken. What was broken was any kind of rational thought about what a fair
system would look like. The law of averages suggested that there'd be some years with more
black nominees and some with fewer, so you couldn't learn anything by looking at one year --
you had to look across several years or decades to get any useful information about whether there
was racism in the Oscar process.
But broken or not, they sure fixed it, didn't they? Because nobody will ever know if that list of
very good black actors who were nominated this year won those nominations over their
competition because the voters honestly thought they were best, or because they now thought it
their duty to avoid controversy over race, or because they were afraid they'd lose their voting
rights, or because the controversies in the past had made them hypersensitive to race.
The Oscars, instead of aspiring to be colorblind, have now eliminated any possibility of
color-blindness. Inevitably, almost all Oscar voters, no matter what they say or what they
believe, will be bending over backward to decide that at least a few black actors every year
And the resulting nominees will be first-rate actors giving first-rate performances.
But the system is now corrupt all the same. From now on, no matter how good a black
nominee's performance is, there'll be a little footnote -- not a visible one, but it'll be there all the
"Black performer nominated after Oscar voters began to be punished when they didn't
nominate enough blacks."
Is that really helping? More blacks will be nominated -- but the nomination will mean a lot less.
One of the joys of cable and satellite television is that programming executives at the various
channels push films at you that you might never have discovered on your own.
Often it's a movie that I wanted to see in the theaters but happened to miss. Then I never thought
about buying the DVD or streaming it because the promotional campaign was over and that
movie simply slipped out of my consciousness.
Insomniac channel-flipping, on the other hand, lets me browse through an array of whatever the
channel programmers decided they'd show at ten p.m. or two a.m. on HBO or USA or Comedy
Central or BBC-US or Hallmark or TBS.
So the other night I flipped my way into last year's The Legend of Tarzan. I didn't see it when
it was in the theaters because I was busy and besides, the very good Greystoke existed, so why
should I watch another Tarzan movie?
But I had a friend who spent several months recommending The Legend of Tarzan to everybody
he knew as the best Tarzan movie ever. Maybe the best movie ever. So I stopped flipping and
gave it a try.
Naturally, I started in the middle of the movie (the punishment for channel-flipping) but I
couldn't tear myself away. In a way, the movie was a sequel -- Tarzan had already been
"civilized" and restored to his family's wealthy position in England, and Jane was with him as
But the writers -- Adam Cozat and Craig Brewer -- did a splendid job of combining the
Tarzan story with the horrifying era of Belgian King Leopold's personal rule of the Congo.
His agents there were the worst colonialists in the history of colonization -- and that's a tough
title to earn.
King Leopold's agent in the Congo is Leon Rom, played powerfully by Christoph Waltz (Big
Eyes, Horrible Bosses 2, Water for Elephants). Rom's job is to get a certain African tribe to give
him a large chest full of big uncut diamonds, and their price is simple enough: Deliver Tarzan to
the chief, Mbonga, so he can get vengeance for Tarzan's having killed the chief's son many years
So Tarzan and Jane are lured back to Africa, and Rom captures them and, after Tarzan gets away,
uses Jane as a hostage to draw him to where Chief Mbonga (Dhimon Hounsou) can kill him.
Meanwhile, though, the entire original story of Tarzan has been shown to us in flashbacks --
powerful scenes of Tarzan as a child and a youth, earning his place in the troop of aggressive,
violent, gorilla-looking apes who raised him, called the Mangani. He thinks of the female who
adopted him as his mother, so when a young tribesman kills her with an arrow, Tarzan kills him.
That was Mbonga's son.
The director was David Yates, who did such a fine job with the Harry Potter franchise
(Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows 1 and 2, and Fantastic Beasts and
Where to Find Them.) Despite the jumping around in time, it's always clear what's happening --
He does a superb job of the climactic confrontation between Tarzan and Mbonga -- and between
Mbonga's tribe and the Mangani apes. And when Mbonga, defeated, cries out, "He was only a
boy. Where was your honor?" we understand Tarzan's honest answer, for the killing took place
when Tarzan was still living as an ape. "I had none," he says.
Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson plays Dr. George Washington Williams, an American who is
looking for hard evidence of King Leopold's misrule of Africa. Jackson's part is delightfully
written and Jackson's performance is as spot-on as we have come to expect.
Jane (Margo Robbie), for her part, is not a passive damsel-in-distress -- she organizes her own
escape and brings humor and genuine affection to the role. The flashbacks showing Tarzan's
courtship of Jane are smart and sweet.
Alexander Skarsgard plays Tarzan as well as I've seen the character played. His body is
lean and muscular, not overly beefed up like many of the actors he fights. We can believe him
doing all the things he's shown doing -- especially because they do not engage in the absurd
fantasy of an unarmed human, no matter how muscular, defeating an adult male ape in one-on-one combat.
After seeing the last two-thirds of the movie, I set the TiVo to record a full showing on HBO.
Once that was on our list, my wife and I watched the whole thing together, and she liked it as
much as I did. We both regretted missing it on the big screen -- but it works just fine on a
television screen, so if you also missed The Legend of Tarzan in the theaters -- and most people
did -- it's well worth watching it now.
Another channel-flipping discovery was In the Heart of the Sea (2015), a movie touted as the
original story on which Moby-Dick was based.
I do love well-filmed nautical movies -- I was a huge fan of the Horatio Hornblower series --
but Moby-Dick is a tragedy and so was In the Heart of the Sea. The idea of watching a downer
shifted the film lower on my list of priorities.
I should have trusted Ron Howard as director, because even though screenwriter Charles
Leavitt used a device I usually hate -- the story is narrated by a grizzled old man who lived
through the combat with the man-killing whale as a ship's boy -- most of the film consists of
action at sea, and it's compelling.
The old man narrates the story to Herman Melville, who knows it's a great story but agrees to
keep out of his novel some of the most terrible things that his informant lived through -- and did
-- as a boy.
(The movie seems to think that Moby-Dick, once Melville wrote it, would be a hit. It wasn't.
Melville had had some success with his early novels, but Moby-Dick, for the very reasons that
make it a literary classic now, made it a commercial flop at the time.
(We only know about it now because some 20th-century writers like D.H. Lawrence and William
Faulkner raved about it six or seven decades later.)
In the end, after the survivors of the encounter with the whale return to their home port, it
becomes a story about the effort by the shipowners to suppress the terrible true story, and the
brave decision by some survivors to tell the truth even at the cost of not going to sea again.
The trouble is that this part of the story isn't particularly interesting. How does a whale-nearly-kills-the-whalers story devolve into just another story about "we must tell the truth."
Even though the frame story doesn't really work -- despite good performances and good writing
-- the story at sea is so powerful that In the Heart of the Sea is well worth recording or
My favorite among my recent channel-flipping discoveries, however, was last year's Eddie the
Eagle (2016). With Hugh Jackman as the headliner it's surprising that on a $23 million budget,
this sports-underdog movie only grossed $16 million in the United States.
Jackman does a wonderful job as the one-time champion ski-jumper who unwillingly coaches
the relentless and untalented Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), an English athlete who
charmed everybody with his courageous but non-medal-winning performance as a ski-jumper at
the 1988 winter Olympics.
Christopher Walken appears in a small but vital role, and it turns out to be a triple father-figure
movie. The writing is good and the sports action sequences are exciting, but what makes this
movie so -- oh, I'll just say it -- so lovable is Taron Egerton's performance as Eddie.
He gets just the right combination of stubbornness and naivete, courage and clowning.
He shares wonderful moments with his mother (Jo Hartley) and with champion ski-jumper, the
"Flying Finn" Matti Nykanen, played by the winsomely beautiful Edvin Endre.
No, it doesn't make grown men sob like Rudy, but it's in that same genre of underdog sports
movies and I think it's well worth watching even if you never cared about ski-jumping. Which
exactly describes the attitude of an acrophobe like me. It has to have been, except for cliff-diving, the earliest death-wish sport. But I loved Taron Egerton as Eddie the Eagle, and Hugh
Jackman gives one of his most nuanced performances as Eddie's reluctant coach.
The Switch (2010) is just one more bit of evidence that Jason Bateman is one of the most
believable comic actors -- or funniest serious actors -- working today. After his apprenticeship
as a child actor on Little House on the Prairie and Silver Spoons back in the 1980s, he made the
transition to adult roles and still classes up every movie he's in.
Even the Horrible Bosses movies are better when he's in the scene.
And Jennifer Aniston, his co-star in The Switch, still has the chops and the charm to make us
care about whatever character she's playing.
I mention these things because the premise of The Switch is so repulsive that I would never have
paid money to see it in the theater. The idea is that Bateman, as neurotic hypochondriac Wally
Mars, is in love with Kassie Larson (Aniston), but when she decides to have a baby, she pays
some macho nordic dude (Patrick Wilson, as Roland) for a sperm donation.
Drunk and despondent at Kassie's party, Wally finds Roland's donation cup in a bathroom and,
drunkenly fiddling with it, spills its contents on the floor. Though we don't have to watch the
process, he replaces Roland's seed with his own. Yeah, that's right. How could this possibly be
So sure, you should skip all that. Fast forward. Get past it. Because then the movie gets good.
Kassie moves out of New York to raise her child in flyover country, but the movie picks up again
when she returns. Her boy, Sebastian, is almost ten years old -- and when Kassie reconnects
with Wally and starts asking him to tend Sebastian, we quickly learn that Sebastian is as
demanding, stubborn, eccentric, hypochondriacal, and neurotic as ... well, as his father. As
What makes the movie wonderful is all the screen time between Jason Bateman and Thomas
Robinson. The kid is smart and he can act, and Bateman is superb with children, as we saw
again more recently in his work with Rohan Chand in Bad Words (2013).
The result is that we end up loving Wally with Sebastian -- they thrive in each other's company.
Meanwhile, though, Kassie has persuaded herself that she can make a relationship work with
Roland -- even though he is horribly wrong as a "father" for Sebastian.
There must come a time when Wally has to tell Kassie the horrible thing that he did,
hijacking her bought-and-paid-for nordic sperm donation. You'd think the scene would be
impossible to bring off -- but Bateman and Aniston do it with far more power and believability
than a comedy with such a gross-out premise usually deserves.
Should you pay for this movie? I make you no promises. For some people, the whole
switcheroo premise will be too much to handle -- though for people like me, I must say that the
wonderful writing and performances make the good far outweigh the bad.
I learned about Baron Fig writing products from Brian Greene at OfficeSupplyGeek.com, one
of my favorite online reviewers. I've learned about many cool products through his newsletter,
and now I want to tell you about Baron Fig.
I was first drawn to the Baron Fig Alphabet Limited Edition Squire pen. That's a mouthful. Let
me translate. Baron Fig makes a simple, no-pocket-clip, high-quality, high-style pen called the
Squire. They recently offered the Squire Pen in a limited edition Alphabet version with the
English letters displayed down the pen's shaft.
No, they do not assume that their customers need to be reminded of letter shapes or of
alphabetical order. It's just ... cool.
The Squire pens are also comfortable to use, with a smooth line that doesn't skip. And since I
don't carry pens in my shirt pocket -- that's where my iPod Nano clips on -- but instead stash
them in a mid-thigh cargo pocket, the lack of a pocket clip is actually a plus for me.
(To those who try to bully old men like me into giving up our out-of-fashion cargo pants, not on
your life. I don't know how I lived before cargo pants, and I have no intention of finding out
how I might survive without them. Worrying about fashion over function is for socially
But the pen alone might not have pushed me to review Baron Fig products, if it had not been for
The whole idea behind Baron Fig's writing products is the "creative journey" that balances
"Discipline and Impulse." This is not just promotional cant: As somebody who lives on the
results of the creative process, I can assure you that successful creation depends on a melding of
imaginative leaps and grinding self-discipline.
So when they were naming their company, they derived the name "Baron Fig" from symbols
associated with the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus.
Here's when I fell in love with Baron Fig. Not only do they offer the new dot-grid format as an
optional replacement for lines, which I find extremely useful for both writing and drawing, but
also they have a crazy notebook called "Askew," which does have lines.
Only they're not all straight. Of course, you're free to write in straight lines, regardless of the
weird things the preprinted lines are doing. But the strange-looking pages invited you to do
unusual, unexpected things.
My only quibble with their Work/Play II notebook -- offered with lovely solid covers, fine
binding, a ribbon bookmark, a sewn binding, and a small but highly usable size -- is that the dot-grid is placed on the verso, and the plain blank pages for drawing on the recto.
That is, when the notebook is open (it easily lies flat), the right-hand page has no lines, and the
lefthand page has the dot-grid to help guide your writing.
This is the opposite of what I wanted. The left page is where I want to draw, and the right page is
where I want to write, which I, at least, cannot do without some kind of grid to keep my lines
But I found a simple, if inelegant solution. I simply use the Baron Fig Work/Play II notebook
upside down, putting the pages just as I want them.
Go to BaronFig.com, look at their products, and spend some time playing with the fun stuff on
their site. Their attention to quality is meticulous, so that their products are well worth the cost;
and their sense of fun and whimsy are contagious.
Will Baron Fig make me forget about Levenger, my longtime office-product supplier? Not at all.
The things I buy from Levenger, Baron Fig does not offer -- and vice versa.
Fresh Market regularly stocks high quality wild-caught, fresh-frozen salmon, so whenever I
wanted to barbecue a skin-on half-salmon I've never had the slightest problem getting one (or
more) from the butcher shop/fish market at Fresh Market.
Yet the Vital Choice catalogue was too seductive to ignore. For one thing, this is ecologically
correct food -- they go to some effort to offer "sustainable seafood," with the highest standards
of purity. Check out their information at VitalChoice.com.
They offer a whole array of very high quality seafood, starting with salmon, halibut, cod, and
tuna. When they ship frozen fish, it arrives in perfect condition; when you thaw it and cook it,
the results are excellent.
The frozen salmon I ordered came in perfectly-sized packages. Along with rice or potatoes
and fruits and vegetables, my wife and I have a full meal with a single packet of salmon each.
The first time we ate them, though, we didn't know the size would be exactly right, so I cooked
four. It was too much for one meal, so the next day I mixed the cold leftovers with mayonnaise,
and we had salmon-salad sandwiches. My wife ate hers like a dip, on sourdough flatbread from
Fresh Market. So we got two days of salmon from four packages.
Vital Choice also offer canned and pouched seafood. When you open a can of Vital Choice tuna,
it does not look like ordinary canned tuna. There's a slight fishy smell that canned tuna never
has, but that's a result of its freshness and natural treatment. It tastes as good as the best
prepackaged tuna you've ever had.
But it's the snackable pouches of salmon that I appreciate most, along with a highly unusual
product: Omega-3 Salmon Oil supplements.
Meeting all the same specs as the fish oil supplements I've been taking for years (under doctor's
orders), the Vital Choice Salmon Oil has a singular advantage. From time to time, if you take
it regularly, fish oil may happen to be in your stomach when you have an episode of eructation
(the fancy word for belching, acid reflux, or throwing up a little in your mouth). The taste can be
nauseating ... but not if you're taking the pure Salmon Oil capsules from Vital Choice.
It's like the difference between salmon caviar and regular caviar. Salmon caviar is delicious
without any accompaniments; and while salmon-belching isn't exactly delicious, it's also not
But Vital Choice isn't only about fish. They offer grass-fed bison and wagyu beef, heritage
chicken, and all kinds of burgers and hot dogs made from fish and/or meat. Wild Alaskan
Salmon "Dogs" sound even better to me than the "Bison Hot Dogs" they offer, and I'm definitely
going to try their bison-burger patties.
I can vouch for the excellence of everything I've tried so far, so my expectations are high. So are
the prices. It depends on what you can afford -- and how much you care about the quality they
For big salmon barbecues, I'm going to stick with the large slabs of wild salmon from Fresh
Market. But for small meals for two salmon lovers like my wife and me, I think it's worth
investing in Vital Choice products.
Best ad on the Oscar Show Sunday night: The Rolex commercial. There is zero chance I'll ever
own or wear a watch that costs more than our house payment, but to see their montage of movie
scenes that show characters wearing Rolex watches was an exercise in nostalgia -- and in
noticing things that I didn't notice when I first watched those films.