Scrantonicity ~ “Paper Airplane”

Friday, April 26, 2013

The art of making paper airplanes is affectionately known as “aerogami,” which is a play-on-words of “origami,” the Japanese art of folding paper. This leads me to think that  The Office missed an opportunity with “Paper Airplane,” to have the contest won easily by the mysterious warehouse worker Hidetoshi Hasagawa. The show still could have kept the dynamic between Dwight and Angela, as they each tried to “lose.” But it would have been cool to see Hide casually throw his carefully folded plane for a vast, jaw-dropping distance at the end, when almost nobody (but the camera) was watching. I just thought I’d “speak my truth.” Now I suppose I should speak about this episode’s Scrantonicity.

 

The show starts out with an interesting quirk; the company that is sponsoring the paper airplane contest is named “Weyerhammer.” This is a thinly-disguised version of the huge cellulose fiber corporation Weyerhaueser, which is known for its paper products. It also produces lumber and packaging from the many trees of the great Pacific northwest. And Weyerhaueser’s company headquarters is a huge sprawling, park-like campus just a few miles from where we live now outside Seattle. So there I am, a Scranton native searching for Scrantonicity, and the show is having a laugh about a company just down the road from me in Seattle. Weyerhaueser’s main campus features a gorgeous bonsai garden that is free and open to the public, if you’re ever out this way.

 

The first legitimate new “Scrantonicity” sighting of this episode is Angela’s accounting diploma that is seen hanging on the wall behind her desk. It is from PennFoster College, an online university that has a main office and “Career School” on Oak Street in Scranton. It was not easy to read this diploma, which was visible on the wall for only a few seconds. It’s yet another example of all the research that was put into the back stories of these characters, most of which will never even factor into the show. But they did it anyway, and the prop department produced a nice-looking diploma for the wall.

 

Also visible on that wall were two “certificates of merit.” There is one I’ve noticed before,  “honoring” a real person named Marc Christie, for his past work on The Office as a “best boy” and a “key grip.” Marc has since moved on to other shows as a key grip, and this was probably his “lovely parting gift.” The second “certificate of merit” is for “Acco Fasteners,” a real company with ties to the paper industry. But curiously, the person listed on the plaque is “Todd Liggies,” a name that does not show up in any online searches. Hmm… I think we are on the outside of an “inside joke” here.

 

When Andy and Daryl arrive at the HDRCP lab to begin filming the industrial instructional video, they are shown walking through a working laboratory, with actual research going on around them by white-lab-coated technicians. They pass by a full snack box positioned on the lab counter, amongst the beakers and test tubes and vials and such. A bag of Herr’s Ragin’ Ranch Chips is clearly visible. It made me wonder if the meticulously pristine, gloved, goggle-wearing technicians just set their equipment down at any time to snatch up a handful of Ragin’ Ranch chips to satisfy their mid-afternoon munchies. Then do they carefully wipe the colorful Ragin’ Ranch crumbs off their hands onto their white lab coats? It all seems kind of Kevin Malone-y, doesn’t it?

 

Meanwhile, the paper airplane contest is in full swing down in the Dunder Mifflin warehouse. Behind the contestants is a desk or a shelving unit that is covered with boxes of Wegman’s snacks and cereals, in an artfully-arranged still-life composition similar to the top of the break room refrigerator upstairs. On the wall above this snack cart is a poster that is “awarding” the warehouse with the unwanted title of “Dirtiest department.” The illustration on this “award” is a cartoon pig. Well… maybe if they didn’t have so many boxes of goodies so conveniently handy down there, they wouldn’t have so many cookie crumbs all over the floor! The warehouse refrigerator features a magnet for RX Billing Services, a local Dunmore business. It also has the exact same magnet as the upstairs refrigerator, extolling the legal services of Dante Cancelli, a Scranton attorney-at-law. Dante works both floors, tending to the legal needs of the blue and the white collars. There are several cases of Izze sparkling juice on the floor behind Nellie, and a 97.9X radio station bumper-sticker behind Kevin, as he glues his fingers together making his many faulty airplanes.

 

When Angela is shown “stocking up” on Dunder Mifflin toilet paper for her home use, she walks past a poster for the Scranton “Fight For Air” Walk, a charity event which was held in October 2012. The pilfered toilet paper rolls were in a blue generic wrapping paper, with only the word “soft” written on the packaging. Since the show knows that nuts like me are out there watching for stuff like this, they really should have put something comically negative like “industrial-grade” on the toilet paper. It would have been funny and apropos, reminding us that the notorious cheapskate Dwight Schrute is the landlord that stocks the Scranton Business Park bathrooms.

 

And finally, Jim Halpert is shown climbing into a McCarthy Flowered Cab in the parking lot. The local company McCarthy cabs has been a staple on the show for years, showing up time and time again. This particular cab is marked on the front fender with the designating number “M152.” Hmm… if I look back at previous episodes, I wonder if cab M152 will be the one that is making every single pick-up. Something tells me that it just might be. :lol:

 

~ Bob

4 Comments

  1. Donna says:

    Finally got a chance to watch “Paper Airplane”. Good episode. But with things winding down, I wonder why they chose to focus on some of the plot points they did, like Toby’s eye getting hurt and Erin’s insane-competitive streak? Normally, I’d relish this “normal” moments, but with the clock ticking, I feel like “get on with it already!” Ya know? Is it just me? Probably, lol.

    I guess this is the end of the “JAM’s marriage on the rocks” storyline. And well it should be! I liked how they showed their marriage is real and susceptible to problems just like real-people’s marriages. However, this is THE Pam & Jim Halpert. There marriage can only be happy forever…at least in my head ;) . So, I’m glad they wrapped up all the angst with a soulful hug and kissy.

    The Dwight/Angela storyline needs to wrap up too. I’d be totally shocked if the show didn’t take the obvious route and get them together at the end. I, for one, am not buying into the red-herring (pretty farm girl, I forget her name).

    But enough about the plot lines, lets talk about Scrantonicity! What a plethora of stuff you unearthed this week Bob! Dante Cancelli? Marc Christie? Weyerhauser? Izze? etc…Great stuff.

    I never heard of Weyerhauser paper, so I would not have gotten that reference.

    I’m gonna miss all the staple props too. Tell the truth, can you ever look at Herr’s potato chips at this point and NOT think of The Office? Well, Herr’s doesn’t really remind me of the show because it’s a local brand in our area, but Wedgeman’s…that is my Office-centric brand. Doesn’t matter that it’s a big chain grocery store popular in a large area of the country. To me, it’s a Office prop, lol!

    Thanks again for doing what you do Bob.

  2. Bob says:

    Thanks, Donna! Just like you, I am having conficting thoughts about these last few remaining episodes. On the one hand, I always did savor the many quirky “Office” moments that had nothing to do with advancing any story arc; They were just “weird” off-the-wall interactions between the huge, colorful ensemble. But now that the end is near, part of me wants every scene to be about BIG doin’s: revelations, wrap-ups, “a-ha” moments… This is strange, watching these waning episodes winding down.

    The pretty farm gal is named “Esther,” by the way. I hope Jim and Pam are patched up soon, because I am hoping for some classic Dwight and Jim interaction before it is all over.

    I’m also hoping that “Scrantonicity” gets to out with a bang, too. :)

  3. joss says:

    Bob: I have to say that your Scrantonicity write-ups have become my favorite reads when it comes to our little niche. I’m going to miss them!

  4. Bob says:

    Why, thank you, Joss! I wish that I had the time to write recaps, too, because I’m sure a lot of readers that (accidentally) find (stumble upon) this column would be more interested in discussing the actual episode. Which I am more than happy to do by the way! :)

    But I figure I’d rather write from an angle that nobody else is pursuing… maybe for good reason. :roll::lol:

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