Rambling “Review” — Burger King Cheesy Tots


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This is less a food review than it is a sad look into the mind of someone who overthinks things way too much.

So Burger King has cheesy tots. I heard this, and wanted some. So I ate some.

When I got there, they had a picture of them on the sign out front. And they weren’t at all what I was imagining.

I was picturing regular tater tots, but with cheese in them. The things in the picture were bigger, and looked cheesier. At this point, I’m picturing some sort of tot that’s got potato filled with tasty, gooey pockets of cheese.

And then I get them. And it’s basically regular tater tots, but with cheese in them. Yes, they’re bigger than regular tater tots, but the difference in size doesn’t reflect a real difference in substance. You can taste the cheese, but it’s not the gooey pockets of cheese I was envisioning.

So they’re fine, but I’m a little disappointed. I wanted gooey cheesiness, and didn’t get it. On a technical note, I think a different cheese might also have made them better, but that’s just me.

But again, that’s not a criticism. ‘Cause then I’m reevaluating, what if I’d heard about them, but hadn’t seen the picture on the drive-through sign. At that point, they pretty much would have met my expectations, and I would have liked them just fine.

And then I’m telling someone about them, and I’m having to do the whole story — what I expected, how my expectations were changed, and how my opinion was colored by both sets of expectations, and that’s when I realized that, to be as navel-gazing as possible, I should write a blog post about talking about how Burger King’s cheese tots measured up to what I thought they should and could be.

Point being, they’re not bad. Try ’em. They could be better with more and different cheese, though.

And as a bonus for reading this far — the Avocado Whopper is pretty good. The Philly Chicken Sandwich is lackluster. The fudge bites ain’t bad at all.

Review — “You Were Born For This” by Bruce Wilkinson


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“You Were Born For This” by “Prayer of Jabez” author Bruce Wilkinson, according to its subtitle, provides “seven keys to a life of predictable miracles.” How much you get out of the book depends largely on what you believe a miracle is.

The basic idea of the book is that God is wanting to do incredible things in the world today, and that He’s wanting to do them through His people, a basic tenet that I would agree with even prior to the case Wilkinson makes for it. If that’s the case, then, Wilkinson argues, we need to be willing and ready to do the work that God has for us. Again, pretty solid ground. If we are, God will use us, routinely, to do amazing things. This idea, and how to live it yourself, are the meat of the book.

And it’s some good meat. Some of the ideas Wilkinson presents are pretty straightforward and basic — be willing to serve God; seek His will; listen to others; be willing to care about and for them and their needs. Some of it is a somewhat deeper. I was personally challenged and plan to adopt his idea of the “God Pocket.”

I found myself questioning occasionally, however, how much of this was really universal. Is this really what God wants everyone to do? Does He really speak to everyone in this way? Or is this a calling and gifting He has for certain people? Wilkinson frequently cites Biblical prophets as examples of his ideas; is that because his ideas are for those with the gift or prophecy?

The book also, for all its strengths, seems to cheapen the idea of miracles somewhat. Biblical miracles were of a much more impressive scale than the ones Wilkinson presents here. Are we to believe that these sorts of God-driven coincidences are the best we should hope for in this modern age? I would like to think not.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Review — “Prometheus”: Sir Ridley Scott and Grover


First of all, let’s get this out of the way — if the forthcoming “Bourne Legacy” is a Bourne movie whether or not it has Jason Bourne in it, then “Prometheus” is an Alien movie whether or not it has Aliens in it.

That out of the way, the success and merit of an Alien movie is based entirely in the high concept. Despite being in the same series, each movie is, ultimately, in a different genre, and that diversity is the strength of the original films. (For the sake of this review, the two “Alien Versus Predator” movies don’t count.)

For example, Alien = Monster Movie + Science Fiction

Alien is nothing but a conventional creature feature, told in a science fiction environment. It works quite well, because it allows everything to be ramped up a notch — the monster is scarier, the victims are more isolated, etc.

Aliens = War Movie + Science Fiction

Aliens keeps the same monster from the first movie, but uses it to tell a different type of film. This is not “The Alien From The Black Lagoon,” this is “Saving Private Newt.” Aliens is, largely, a by-the-numbers war film, and the combination works quite well.

Alien3 = Psychological Thriller + Science Fiction

Alien3 inherits elements of the DNA of the first two films, but takes it in a different direction. For all the studio changes, the third film still bears the fingerprints of director David Fincher, who followed it up with Se7en and The Game and Fight Club. There are monster movie elements, but the real story here is the psychological thriller idea of “the monster within us,” both figuratively and literally. Sure, it’s a smaller film in many ways that its predecessors, but that’s generally going to be true when you compare Fincher’s style of films and James Cameron’s.

Alien Resurrection = Science Fiction + Science Fiction

The fourth film is the weakest link because it’s the most self-indulgent. The strength of the first Alien movies was overlaying science fiction elements on another genre. This film takes the science-fiction elements of the Alien movies and overlays them on a science fiction story. It’s a fanboy movie, full of interesting ideas that fail to scare and ultimately go nowhere.

Which brings us to “Prometheus.”

In some ways, “Prometheus” shares some of the same failings as “Alien Resurrection,” combining science fiction on top of science fiction, using, as Scott put it,  “the DNA of Alien” as a springboard for speculative fiction. That said, Scott’s take on that combination is stronger than “Alien Resurrection,” being far greater in scope than mere fanboy self-indulgence. The questions Scott tackles with his speculative fiction are not about the nuances of the Alien universe, but rather the big questions of our universe.

In that respect, the movie does have its strengths — it is, indeed, intelligent, polished, pretty science fiction.

It’s weakness comes in the high concept of the structure of the film. For all of its deep questions of life, the universe and everything, Sir Ridley Scott has essentially made an Alien version of the Sesame Street classic, “The Monster At The End of This Book.”

“Prometheus” is a monster movie in search of a monster. Rather than the clear and visceral danger faced in Scott’s original film, “Prometheus” has the scare factor of Grover’s assurance that if they keep turning the page, something bad will probably happen. Even the characters in the film aren’t sure whether or not they’re supposed to be experiencing dread. They find themselves on a world where they will encounter … maybe something … that will … do something … that might be bad? Or maybe nice? Having watched the entire film, I’m not sure what the monster of this monster movie was supposed to be.

And that’s a waste of some good Alien DNA.

Review — “I Am Second” by Doug Bender & Dave Sterrett


“I Am Second,” by Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett is a pretty book. The page layout is clean and deliberate, the typography a combination of simple serif and san serif fonts that are visually interesting without complexity, the pictures monochromatic against stark plain backgrounds.

The book, visually, is simple and clean. The stories within it are anything but.

“I Am Second” is a story about real people finding God in a real world. Their stories are not pretty. The book is a collection of testimonies that tell stories of hurt, pain and brokenness, of bad choices and bad breaks. The title refers to the point of the stories, of what it means to come to a point of putting God first in one’s life. But even then, the testimonies don’t pretend that decision always makes life pretty and clean; it honestly discusses the struggles people go through.

And that’s the power of “I Am Second” — its unwavering reality. The book makes no case for Christ. There’s no sales pitch. At the end, there’s no altar call, just an explanation of who this Jesus is these people are talking about, and how you could put him first. There’s no pressure, just a collection of love stories with God. Which may be the best case one could make.


I received a free review copy of