Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Bridge Of Another Color

If there's one thing that Pittsburgh loves more than its bridges--it has more than Venice, after all--it's how much Pittsburgh hates change. So it should come as no surprise that, as the bridges are scheduled to be repainted and the city put it up for a vote as to what the colors should be, Pittsburgh overwhelmingly demanded that they stay the exact same color they are now.

If you know anything about Pittsburgh, this is no surprise. Still, I feel like it's a missed opportunity--and that the other choices may have simply been lacking. The choices--Pittsburgh Yellow, Environmentalist Alarmist Green, and Weirdo Artist Silver--may have been symbolically important, but not so important as to warrant a change.

While I'm not sure if the results would have been different, maybe a better choice of colors would have been useful. Here's some recommendations:
  • Heinz Red
  • PennDOT Orange
  • McArdle Mudslide Brown
  • Fifteen Straight Days Of Rain Gray 
  • East Liberty Police-Tape Yellow
  • Post-Industrial Hellscape Rust
  • Throwback Bumblebee Stripes
  • Soul of Sienna Miller Black
  • Hockey Fight Crimson
  • UPMC Balance Sheet Green
  • Lawrenceville Plaid
  • Monongahelan Grayish-Brownish-Blue
  • Sally Wiggin Blonde
  • Weathered Patio Chair In Parking Space Off-White

Monday, June 29, 2015


I have written in the past about bad, bad movies.  A few weeks ago, I took the time to watch a movie that was just that sort of bad that you have to watch it: Troll 2.

Troll 2  is a singularly abject disaster. So much so that a documentary was made about it, The Best Worst Movie. At one point it had the lowest rating on IMDB, although sadly that's no longer the case.

Where to start? Well, let's start with the title: Despite being called Troll 2, it has little to do with the original Troll. In fact, there is famously not a single troll in the entire movie--the monsters they encounter are goblins. The word "troll" is never mentioned once.

That should tell you all you need to know, but you need to know a lot more.

The acting is bad. Some of the actors are capable enough, although none of them had ever really done anything of consequence before or since. The guy who plays the father isn't horrible, but everyone else either comes across as flat and lifeless or hammy to the point of cringeworthiness. The only one who seems to understand the train wreck of the movie is the main evil lady, Creedance, whose over-the-top absurdness is delivered with a barely visible wink.

The special effects are bad. The trolls themselves are little more than puppets, and the green vegetation is clearly just a greenish syrup. At least they put off a person burning in a fire jacket capably well.

The plot...well, the plot makes no sense. Aside from "small child is trying to tell all the responsible adults that something weird is going on but no one listens," most of the plot  involves stuff that doesn't make sense. A ghost of a grandpa who appears and disappears with no sense of logic, and moves the story along with mysterious bits and pieces that have no discernible logic aside from "we need conflict in the plot but we need to move it along". A ritual that has no basis on any sort of background or known consequence. An arrested relationship plot about the teenage daughter goes nowhere. A completely absurd scene near the end involves seduction via popcorn (yes, you read that right) not only makes zero sense, but does absolutely nothing to advance the plot. Hell, the trolls goblins only show up close towards the end of the movie, and their only function is to eat green syrup in the fakest way possible.

If this sounds like a disaster, it's because you're right. But it's a watchable disaster. You can tell that everyone involved is trying really, really hard to do...something, but there isn't anyone stringing it all together in a coherent manner. (The director, it should be noted, was not a native English speaker.)

I have to recommend that you not only watch this movie, but then watch the documentary I have linked above. It's a bad movie, to be sure, but it's the exact sort of thing one can enjoy without blatant irony.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Inside "Inside Out"

Well, the animated film Inside Out has been a huge hit. Despite the fact that it’s a blatant ripoff  homage of the classic Herman’s Head from two decades ago and that it continues Pixar’s string of Movies That Will Rip Your Heart Out And Stomp On It And You’ll Gladly Pay For The Privilege, it’s become hugely popular.

For those who do not know, Inside Out is a movie where a small girl’s thoughts are personified as Anger, Joy, Anxiety, Disgust, and Sadness. (They are voiced by appropriate voice actors, such as Amy Poehler for Joy and Lewis Black for Anger.) These emotions act as characters as the child goes through the trauma of moving to a new city and encountering the various struggles in doing so.

Of course, I feel that the movie would be much, much better if there were more than just five emotions. It seems like a wider range of emotions, thoughts, and mental processes would be more appropriate. Such as:

Compassion: There's a part of you that wants to watch cat videos on YouTube right now. Voiced by: Sarah McLaughlin

Gullibility: What's life unless you occasionally click on that link that tells you that you can download an app that lets you can see who has viewed your profile? Voiced by: Any 80-year-old on Facebook. 

Stress: Stress is going to happen whether you like it or not. If you aren't stressed, that just means you don't realize that you have something you should be stressed about. And that should stress you out. Voiced by: A college freshman waiting for a pregnancy test to show results

Alarm: Eating bad food makes you less healthy? You mean an appointment at three o'clock means be there at three o'clock? When did turn signals start being a thing? WHY IS EVERYTHING HAPPENING?  Voiced by: Anyone who posts a clickbait Buzzfeed article. You know, any Buzzfeed article.

Annoyance: Doesn't anyone else hear that sound?  No, like that tapping noise? Surely I'm not the only one MAKE IT STOP. Voiced by: Snooki

Relaxation: Ahh. Everyone relaxes in their own way, whether it be stretched out in the sun or playing video games for sixteen hours straight. Voiced by: That spokesman for Allstate Insurance. 

Excitement: There's a package on the porch! There's a new email that doesn't look like spam! This envelope isn't a bill! YAY! Voiced by: Anyone with Amazon Prime

Forgetfulness:  I, uh...I swear, I had something for this. Voices by: Rick Perry

Sarcasm: Like it or not, navigating this crazy world requires a little bit of passive-aggressive non-confrontation. It's much more effective to make snarky comments than actually confront a problem. Voiced by: Dr. Gregory House

Pride: You should be proud of your daughter for being in the spelling bee. You should be proud of your dog for not shitting on the couch for two days in a row. You should be proud of the flag that is flying in the state capitol that is literally a loser flag because you lost the war. Well, maybe not that last one. Voiced by: character actor Kurt Fuller

Revenge: There's an innate human drive to make sure that justice is always delivered, regardless of how inconsequential and petty the transgression. Because if no one else is going to make that Nissan Juke pay for switching lanes at the last second, who will? Voiced by: Liam Neesan

Confusion: Sometimes, you just don't understand what's going on, and that's ok. Why is running this simple computer program so difficult? How does Kevin Costner still get movie roles? Why are watermelon candies red and not green? There are more red flavors than green! And they look green! Voiced by: any blonde character in a sitcom

Earthiness: Hey, someone's got to snicker at all the things that vaguely look like a penis, right? Voice by: a twelve-year-old playing Cards Against Humanity

Bat-shit Craziness: Everyone has bouts of being a complete train wreck, but even if you're not it's at least useful to have a bat-shit crazy detector. Voiced by: Donald Trump

Logic: Yeah, yeah, yeah emotions are nice and important and all, but someone's got to step up and calculate the tip. Voiced by: Your high school algebra teacher.

Boredom: Yawn. There's so much to do, and so little motiviation to actually do any of it. Hey, watching eight episodes of The Bachelorette counts as doing something, right? Voiced by: Ben Stein.

Crankiness: I HATE THIS AND EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS. Voice by: well, modesty forbids.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Nostalgia Isn't What It Used To Be

There’s a current thing going around the internet that has some variation of this:
There’s a Bush and a Clinton running for office, Jurassic Park is at the top of the box office, and Final Fantasy VII is being made. What year is it?
This sort of thing pops up every few years. Sometimes it’s a humorous coincidence, but—given our penchant for remakes—not entirely unlikely. When you have an entire culture to pick and choose from, it’s not terribly difficult to match things up from an entire history to pull from.

Nostalgia is a funny thing. On the one hand, it’s natural—most people enjoy reminiscing about how things used to be, with the added benefit (or drawback, as it may be) of comparing it to the current state of things. And yet it can be misleading as well. Memory, context, and judgment are fickle things. We all tend to remember the good bits, dismiss and justify the bad bits, and completely forget the vast wasteland of mediocrity. We all sang along with Pocket Full of Kryptonite; none of us remember Turn It Upside Down.

Most of this is harmless, but that doesn't mean it's not frustrating. We all, at one time in our lives, pointed a crooked finger at the local gas station sign and lamented about how cheap gasoline used to be, conveniently forgetting that cars back then got maybe six miles to the gallon. We’ve all fallen into the trap of claiming that the music that came out in that magical time when we were 11 to 13 years old was objectively the single best music ever conceived by mankind, despite the fact that this cycle seems to repeat on a constant basis. Any long-running cultural program—Saturday Night Live, Doctor Who, Mad Magazine, The Simpsons, etc.—all seem to have peaked for each individual person roughly around their early-to-mid teens. This is alarmingly consistent.

Annoyingly, the internet (specifically sites like Buzzfeed and Reddit) seem to be fueled by this weird nostalgia fetish—an easy way to score plenty of page views and upvotes is to simply post a picture of a Pokemon cartridge or a can of Surge soda. Of course, the fact that we enjoy and support remakes emphasizes all this—you can count on one hand the number of hit movies lately that aren’t some sort of sequel or remake capitalizing off of former success.

I don’t want this to come across as hand-wringing dismay—in fact, I hold a contrarian opinion that we don’t engage in nostalgia enough. Ask a millennial what the best television series of all time is, and it’s doubtful they will name a show older than The Sopranos—ignoring nearly a half a century of mostly decent and critically acclaimed material that still holds up. Of course, perhaps this is consistent rather than contrary; the high-water mark is still part of nostalgia. It just doesn’t go far back enough. The Twilight Zone and the Dick Van Dyke Show aren’t nostalgia anymore; they’re history.

None of this is worth getting bent out of shape over, I suppose. There’s nothing wrong with reminiscing. A case can probably be made that misplaced nostalgia often crowds out new, original content, but I think the internet has more than made up for it. Still, it can be irritating to see people focus on stuff that honestly wasn’t nearly as good as you remember it being.

Except for the Might Orbots. Those guys were the shit.

[Title taken from a bumper sticker I saw like 20 years ago. Like back when bumper stickers were much, much better.]

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dino Might

I love dinosaurs. I love huge, obnoxious action movies. I love Chris Pratt. So why on earth does Jurassic World look like a complete disaster?

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m not one of those people that holds action flicks as some sort of high art. I’m no highbrow, but I find most action movies to be sorta dumb and mindless, but just like fast food and 24 hour news channels sometimes I just want something dumb and mindless and if I get to see shit blow up and maybe some cleavage all the better.

And yet sometimes things just don’t click. Jurassic World doesn't look like it's going to click for me.

I enjoyed the first Jurassic Park, but I’m mindful that the movie came out over twenty years ago. The shaky science aside, it had a decent narrative arc, awesome (and, at the time, unprecedented) special effects, a reasonably satisfying ending, and child actors that didn’t make me want to throw my popcorn at the screen. It had lawyers getting eaten up in an outhouse, Richard Attenborough tottering around like he owns the place, Newman getting spit on, Jeff Goldblum being a weirdo like always, and a big pile of stego poop and I am still amazed that Steven Spielberg didn’t get a concussion from all the Oscars thrown at him.
I never saw the other movies. No reason; they just weren’t on my to-do list, but by all accounts seem to have been decent enough. Maybe someday.

And yet, nothing about Jurassic World makes me want to see it. Maybe it’s just because we’ve seen this movie before. Maybe because the effects aren’t all that different than what we see on a second-rate Showtime Original. Maybe it’s because of the current trend of shooting movies where apparently artificial and natural lighting are a scarce resource reserved for special occasions and one can barely see anything that is going on, a method that is only acceptable for bottom-barrel horror flicks looking for cheap scares. Maybe they hung everything onto Chris Pratt, an admittedly awesome actor who seems perfectly cast for the role.

Sadly, though, I don’t think it’s enough. Dinosaurs in movies are old hat even after 20 years, let alone eons. And even Bert Macklin can’t carry those dinosaur bones for 124 minutes.

And that is a bit of a shame. Growing up, if you asked me what my dream occupation was, it wouldn’t have been paleontologist or museum curator, it would have been “triceratops.” (I wasn’t a smart kid.) So Jurassic Park was the shit for me back in the day, even though I managed to reset my expectations in regards to dinosaur career opportunities.

Of course, I’ll be in the minority about this movie. There’s no doubt that this will be a smash hit, and I’ll be seeing velociraptors on Burger King cups for the next four months. And maybe I’ll get around to seeing it when it’s in the Redbox. But this is one of many high-profile summer blockbusters that baffles me as to its need.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Chesneyland: How Pittsburgh Is Preparing

It’s that time of year again: it’s time for a right proper Kenny Chesney concert in Pittsburgh!

Most people remember the last Kenny Chesney concert here in the steel city back in 2012, which did not end…well. The concert itself was more or less without incident, but the aftermath was a disaster: a vast field of garbage, vandalism, and sketchy biomass met the city the following morning, all baking in the unforgiving sun until it could be cleaned up by civil servants. Chesney fans were rightly called on the carpet about it, most of which were still too hung over to care all that much.

Concert fallout is hardly new, of course; it was just that people 1) weren’t expecting it to happen with Kenny freaking Chesney and 2) the volume was amplified by being held in Heinz Field, where even the garbage-producing standards of Steelers fans was miraculously eclipsed. 

Of course, the city of Pittsburgh has taken every precaution to prevent a repeat of last time. Here are a few of the precautions that have been implemented to combat having the arena look like a war zone:

• Thin out the crowd a bit right from the start with a new opening act: Sienna Miller (featuring Bill Belichick) butchering covers of Donny Iris songs.
• Have mayor Bill Peduto come out and say that for every piece of trash left after the concert, he’s going to open another bike lane in the city.
• Switch all the cans of beer out with Keystone Light so no one can get drunk.
• Tell the audience that by the end of the concert the venue should be as washed up as Kenny Chesney is.
• Guilt everyone by reminding the crowd that Mister Rogers would never leave so much trash in a public place.
• Have volunteers put lawn chairs in all the spots of the parking lot so no one parks there.
• Force the makers of Arizona Iced Tea to install anti-taking-a-poop-in-this-box devices into all of their packaging.
• Post notices around Heinz Field written by noted music critics from Rolling Stone, Spin, and The New York Times about how bland and derivative Chesney’s music is and they should all go home and enjoy something else. Ha, just kidding! Music critics have never influenced anyone ever.
• Ban any vehicle that features a knockoff Calvin pissing on a logo, NOBAMA bumper sticker, or a pair of truck nuts.
• Each pickup truck must be accompanied by a hipster who will badger the passengers into only enjoying the music ironically. Said hipster will also divert some of the alcohol consumption by drinking a portion of their shitty beer.
• Have Renee Zellweger come out before the concert and unsuccessfully convince everyone how straight Kenny Chesney is.
• Enact a dress code: no wrestling T-shirts or NASCAR hats for guys; no white tank tops and cutoff jeans for women.
• Prohibit any alcohol consumption during any song that is indistinguishable from any previous song.
• Get some Jimmy Buffet fans to come out and shame the concertgoers. Because if parrotheads think you’ve gone too far with your debauchery, it’s time to buy some mirrors to look at yourself in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mad Men: The Final Episode

Well, I wasn't going to write about Mad Men because I've written about it a lot before, but it seems like everyone else is, so why not?

Note: Spoilers ahead

Mad Men is a fairly solid part of our cultural zeitgeist at this point, but it's possible there are plenty of those who aren't familiar with the program. Mad Men just ended its run of seven seasons, stretched out unnecessarily over eight years, garnering all sorts of well-deserved awards in the process.

Mad Men is a show about advertising executives, initially set in the 1960's, eventually landing us in 1970. The show was really about three things: it was about advertising, it was about characters, and it was about history. The show managed to meld all three of them more or less seamlessly, while we watched a core group of people evolve in the turbulent 60's all under the backdrop of a relatively familiar industry.

Specifically, the show centers on Don Draper, a good-looking and highly successful creative director at the middle-range firm of Sterling Cooper. Draper is, to mangle a metaphor that probably doesn't fit, the executive all companies want and other executives want to be. It's established early on that Don is a legend in the industry, and every so many episodes someone makes an inquiry if he's willing to jump ship. He's a hot commodity in more than one way--he easily beds many women in many different stations, from the beatnik artist to the rich daughter of a high-end department store owner. He is, of course, married, to poor, unassuming Betty. 

It's easy to think of Mad Men as simply The Don Draper Story, but that would be a mistake--the show is definitely an ensemble production, with a core group of highly interesting characters supported by a ring of other highly interesting side characters. You have Pete, the young, ambitious blue-blood who resents Don's success and, early on, has difficulty balancing the cache his name has with earning a reputation on his own. There's Roger, a partner and head of accounts trying to fill his father's shoes (and act as an enabler to Don's drinking and womanizing), the epitome of second-generation wealth. There's Peggy, the fresh, young face in the secretarial pool who manages to transition to creative (a woman! In creative!). And you have Joan, the office manager who tries to balance using her sexuality to advance her prospects and trying to establish her needs in spite of it.

There is, of course, more to it: there's Don's kids, Sally, Bobby, and (eventually) Gene. There are other workers, such as Harry, the head of media, Ken, an account manager, and Bert, the eccentric but practical senior manager. Some early characters, such as progressive Paul and art director Sal, also get an early exit, while other, new characters (like Megan, Don's new wife, new artist Stan, and Lane, the new financial manager) are slowly introduced. Mad Men excels in weaving all of these characters into believable story arcs that are told in 13-episode-season efficiency.

Of course, it's not long in the series when we discover some new things. Don has a deep, dark secret that no one knows about, not even his wife. Everybody in the cast effectively leads two lives, which is portrayed as being standard for the time; the show, however, does show a spectrum of reactions. Don shamelessly sleeps with pretty much any woman he can find, while Harry has a drunken one-night stand and feels incredibly guilty about it.

Mad Men spends a few seasons reveling in scotch-soaked assignations and history porn, but eventually settles into a few comfortable arcs. The ever-evolving nature of the corporation (mergers, acquisitions, firings, and restructurings happen frequently) as well as using advertising to highlight the changing social landscape start to take focus. Of particular note is the story arc of Peggy, who begins as a mere secretary with little knowledge of the real world and ends up one of the more successful and happy characters. It's a fascinating journey that is not only believable but also does an excellent job of showing the progression of the women's movement in the 60's without pounding it in your face with a frying pan. It's extraordinary subtle.An honorable mention goes out to the character of Lane Pryce, a tragic figure in a show with plenty to choose from. And let's not forget Roger, who just seems to be having a blast the entire run of the series.

Let's be honest here: Mad Men can be a hard sell. It's not a particularly engaging idea (ad execs?) and boardroom antics are famously difficult to make interesting on the screen. And there's no violence or explosion or all that much steamy sex, either. This isn't Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, both similar character-driven shows that still had the benefit of pulling out a gunfight when necessary. Still, somehow, they were able to not only make it interesting but engaging.  

Of course, the series isn't perfect. The biggest issue I had was that there are a few story lines that never really seem to go anywhere. They don't advance the plot, they don't develop the characters, and often seem to be simple time-fillers. The plot involving Conrad Hilton, for example, never really went anywhere, and some of Don's affairs were particularly cringe-worthy in their uselessness. Who cares about Sylvia, or the waitress, or that teacher whose name no one cares to remember?

Anyway, on to the final episode. I enjoyed it, more or less; the final few episodes kind of wrapped up a lot of the story arcs. Betty getting cancer was certainly a downer, but to see Sally mature was satisfying. Roger is Roger; nothing less could be expected. It was very nice to see Peggy actually be so happy being with Stan; the sexual tension was never palpable and it could have gone either way, but I'm glad it went the way it did.

While I enjoyed what happened with both Joan (starting her own production company) and Pete (reconciling with his wife and moving to Kansas to work for Learjet), both seemed rather abrupt. Joan had never once indicated any sort of interest in being a producer, and Pete was a smarmy slimeball right up until the final three episodes or so where he became a saint. It would have been nice to see some sort of catalyst of change for both--it's certainly believable--but it just sort of happened. I do wish we had gotten a more solid resolution with Harry and Ted (the latter not showing up at all) but they were secondary characters and it's understandable.

I'm still conflicted on Don. While Don has always been one to go on his own for some soul-searching--he had run off to California earlier in the series--the whole retreat seemed forced. It was very much out of character for Don. At least they led up to it (Don leaving the meeting, him traveling across the country, etc.) so it wasn't as abrupt as Pete and Joan, but still. In the end, the implication that he came up with the Coke ad is perfect (they don't explicitly say it, but it's pretty obvious--the girl who worked at the counter also resembles one of the girls in the commercial); Don, the man who finds enlightenment and then goes and makes a boatload of cash on it.

Mad Men was a rare show, indeed; period dramas are expensive and hard to make without coming across as trite. It will be a long while before we see something like it again, I suspect.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

4 Items Or Less

I swear, I don't just write about food.

Thankfully, this post involves food only as a secondary aspect of the story; the first is my inability to engage in common social interactions.

I went into the local overpriced grocery store chain to look for a specific item--a frozen gluten-free pizza, which my wife enjoys but can be somewhat hard to find. So when we do come across them, we tend to stock up in case they are harder to find in the future.

Anyway, I look in the freezer section and saw that they did, in face, have frozen pizzas in stock. So I grab three of them and throw them in my cart. I browsed the store quickly but realized I didn't want to spend $14 on a small cylinder of artisan Diet Pepsi or $8 for a single vegan GMO-free gourmet chocolate chip cookie, so the only thing in my cart were the pizzas.

The nice clerk checks me out and tells me the total, which seems much higher than it should be.

"Uh..." I say, trying to avoid eye contact. I glance at the screen and see that she had charged me for four pizzas, not three.

"You charged me for four pizzas," I say, trying not to embarrass the poor girl. It's an easy mistake, but not one you can let slide when you're buying specialty pizza at the world's least competitively-priced store.

"Yeah," she replied, in an equally non-direct-confrontation manner.

"So, uh, I only got three."

The clerk--who couldn't have been much more than sixteen, glanced down at the bags she had just made.

"No, there's four."

"No," I repeated a little more forcefully, "I picked up three."

I then realize with horror that there are, in fact, four pizzas in the bags. I somehow must have grabbed one more than I thought.

"Whelp," I said. "Looks like I got four. I swear I got three."

The clerk didn't really respond. I don't blame her; she was wrongfully accused in an open court of random people who just wanted to buy their arugula tea and prepackaged fusion sushi through the system and go home to drink their mid-range wine and watch premium cable.

I swiftly grabbed my bags and left. Looks like I'll have to find a new grocery store to embarrass myself in.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Worldwide Conspiracy, Graham Cracker Style

I'm not sure, but I may have uncovered a conspiracy of monumental proportions.

This very night, my wife and I enjoyed the first smores of the season. I opened a box of graham crackers, which are my favorite snack because they have the audacity to call themselves "crackers" when they are quite clearly cookies, and looked inside. Now, I'm not about giving away free advertising on this site--I don't care how tasty you are, ya still gotta pay--and I also don't want 1) to be sued for libel because of this forthcoming post and 2) I don't want the Illuminati to use keywords to track me down. Let's just say they are a major graham cracker manufacturer whose name rhymes with "Bunny Laid."

Anyway, I pull out the first package--for some reason graham crackers are packaged in three different wrappers because apparently some marketing genius somewhere doesn't think people just eat all three packages in one sitting--and I noticed something peculiar.


 What on earth is this? (One mystery that doesn't need solved is why it looks like someone ate half of the crackers in this pack. It wasn't me. Mystery solved. Let's move on. Ahem.) It's a regular pack of graham crackers, but right in the middle of the package is an "A". So I pulled out the next one.


A "B"? What sort of Brave New World nonsense is this? But there's a third package in the box. What mysteries will it sing for me?

An "A" again. What sort of devilry is this?

No, seriously, I have no idea why this is the case. If there is one thing that the Bunny Laid corporation loves more than making tasty treats for the eagerly hungry public, it's not spending stupid money to stamp a Ariel letter for no reason on their packaging. More importantly, all three packs were the same. Same number of crackers. Same color, flavor, everything.

I could understand maybe lettering them "A", "B", and "C", but they didn't do that. They went back to "A". Why? It doesn't made any sense from a packaging standpoint, or an inventory standpoint, or really any sense of logic whatsoever.

Anyway, I have some theories:

1. There are people being held hostage in the Nabisco Rabbitsco bakery but they think that there is a two-thirds chance that the only person who can rescue them is the Fonz.
2. Graham crackers have gained sentience and are working their way through Richard Scarry's alphabet books.*
3. Big Cracker is trying to send out a coded message with the laziest cryptographer ever.

In any case, it may take a while to solve this mystery. Maybe the cinnamon crackers have different letters. I hope so, because now I'm hungry again. This is going to be the tastiest Da Vinci Code-style mystery-solving shit ever. 

*I'm not sure if Richard Scarry Alphabet Books are a thing, but that seems to be the sort of thing graham crackers would be up for. Weirdos.