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The Final Hurrah: Reflections from a GA

By Jenna Renaud

My two years at Falvey Memorial Library and Villanova have officially come to a close. At the close of last semester, I wrote a similar post reflecting on the changes that Fall 2021 brought; however, now I am faced with a much more daunting task—reflect on the entirety of my GA experience.

tolkien books on map

Jenna’s personal Tolkien collection for celebrating National Hobbit Day

Thinking back to my first day at the Library, I’m struck by how different it is from the end in almost every way. My first day, I came down to almost an entirely empty office. I spent the semester in office only two days a week. My first semester was filled with time spent in the stacks helping Access Services and writing Cat in the Stax each week, discovering my voice and role in the Library. The post that stands out the most from that time was one of my first, talking about how to celebrate National Hobbit Day through Falvey’s collection. This was during a time where the majority of my inspiration came from items laying around my home office—including my husband’s new collection of Tolkien books.

Second semester, I focused on finding new ways to connect with the Villanova community and started the Read with the (Other) Jenna book club. Although short-lived, it was fun to dig deeper into books including Angela’s Ashes and Aftershock. Despite not being in-office with the team, our Zoom meetings were definitely a highlight of every week, discussing everything from Mosaic to upcoming events to the pros and cons of scrapple (don’t ask!).

GAs Jenna & Ethan outside of Falvey

GAs Jenna & Ethan at the Finals Stress Buster event

With the kick-off of the 2021-22 academic year came student workers, another GA, and the return of office work. It was definitely a transition going into the office four days a week, but it was a much needed change of pace. Passing off Cat in the Stax to Ethan, I looked for new recurring blogs to take on, settling on Peek at the Weeks and Weekend Recs. In addition to having another GA to collaborate with, we had student workers in the office again! Kelly showed Ethan and I the ropes for poster deliveries (something I had yet to experience) and Anna and I collaborated on what is to this day my favorite Weekend Recs following the drop of Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) album. The semester flew by and was such a fun experience, getting into the swing of how things were pre-pandemic.

And with that, it was my final semester! Ethan and I had the opportunity to attend more Villanova Theatre performances, including their most recent production, Curtains, which you can read more about here. In addition, Ethan and I took on a new project introducing In Case You Missed Ita YouTube series where each month we broke down the top stories based on social media data. Our Wordle episode was probably my favorite, along with all of the bloopers when we forgot how to talk. The spring semester also brought more in-person events, including one with Lit Fest author Camille Dungy, where I was the point person. My final event of the semester was our baseball-themed stress buster, with everything from soft pretzels to Bundt cakes (Get it? Bunting? Like in baseball?).

Maybe the past two years haven’t been “traditional,” but I wouldn’t change anything! Big thanks to Joanne, Shawn, Kallie, Gina and Ethan for being the best team and taking my graduate student experience to the next level. 168 blog posts later—I’m out!

This isn’t good-bye, it’s just see you later (I definitely need to come back for updated Falvey swag)!


Jenna Renaud is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.


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Cat in the Stax: Spring 2022 Semester Rewind

By Ethan Shea

"Casette"

For this final ‘Cat in the Stax’ of the semester, I thought it would be fun to replicate the way I ended our winter semester, with some highlights of the blog from the past few months.

Altogether, there were a total of sixteen Cat in the Stax blogs published this semester (counting this one). Out of all of them, it’s hard to choose just a few standouts, but I’ll give it a shot…

"Red Fox"

To begin, one of my favorite blogs to write was actually last week’s piece on our local wildlife. I enjoyed researching the names of birds I see so often but never could identify. Besides, I’ll always take an opportunity to talk about foxes, one of my favorite animals.Wordle

I also had a blast writing “The Benefits of Wordle,” a blog about everyone’s favorite pastime. Wordle has become a part of my daily routine over the past few months, and I know I’m not the only one who has become addicted to this game. Learning that some are advocating for Wordle to be used in the classroom was fascinating and made me feel a bit better about spending so much time contemplating my guesses.

Tracing the Easter Bunny’s roots back to Pennsylvania was a lot of fun too.  This blog coupled with the Groundhog Day piece that was published not too long before Easter showed me just how important small, furry mammals are in Pennsylvania. Out of every Cat in the Stax of the semester, these animals were integral to at least three of them, but maybe that says more about me than it does about our state.

"Curtains Poster"Lastly, I was excited when the ‘Cat in the Stax’ that highlighted Villanova Theatre’s production of Curtains: A Musical Whodunnit was featured on The Yawp: Villanova’s Graduate English Program Blog. You can check out that blog here. I was happy to receive the shoutout, and looking through the past productions that led to Curtains was fun too!

Aside from this semester’s Cat in the Stax blogs, I’d like to bring attention to the return of The Curious Cat blogs this semester, which wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Elijah McDow and the willing participants we always find here at Falvey. Both will be back before long!

Anyways, I’m looking forward to summer vacation and my return to Falvey’s stacks in the fall! Enjoy your well-deserved break, and I’ll see you next semester!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


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Cat in the Stax: Our Local Wildlife

By Ethan Shea

"Eastern Bluebird"

An Eastern Bluebird perched on a small branch

For this penultimate Cat in the Stax of the academic year, I’d like to take your mind off finals for a brief moment and encourage you to think of something much more relaxing…the great outdoors. Now that the weather is warming up, not only more people, but an increasing number of wildlife can be seen roaming about too. As birds return from their winter vacations, our mornings are full of song and beautifully painted feathers. Not to mention the increased presence of our favorite furry mammals!

Over the past few months, I’ve become a bit of an amateur birdwatcher during my morning runs. Almost every day, I run through Norristown Farm Park, which is about a twenty-minute drive from campus if you’d like to visit yourself. I’ve loved watching different birds migrate through the park recently, and some of my favorites are Eastern Bluebirds, Barn Swallows, and either Downy or Hairy Woodpeckers (I can never tell them apart). I even see some larger birds on occasion, such as the Great Blue Heron and Bald Eagle.

"Red Fox"

A Red Fox stands beside a tree trunk

Regarding the flightless inhabitants of the park, my absolute favorite animal to run into is the Red Fox. I’ve been lucky enough to get pretty close to a few because thankfully, they’re not aggressive. When a fox has to choose between fight or flight, it’s almost always going to choose flight. That being said, they’re still wild animals and should be treated as such.

There are also plenty of White-Tailed Deer and groundhogs around. In fact, this morning I must have scared a groundhog while running through the woods. I watched it scurry away then climb straight up a tree! I’ve always thought groundhogs stayed on…well, the ground, but I learned something new today.

If you’re interested in learning more about our local wildlife, Falvey Library is the place to be! For example, this book by Gerald M. McWilliams, titled The Birds of Pennsylvania, has everything you need to know about birding in our state.

To explore nature for yourself, you need not go much further than our campus. In addition to the scenic walks around our own Villanova neighborhood, just down the road, Haverford College has a great nature trail that is open to the public. I also recommend checking out the Schuylkill River Trail, which currently has about 75 miles of completed trail in different sections. There should be more than enough places to visit along that path!

If you can, try to take some time between exams to relax and enjoy the nature we’re fortunate to be surrounded by. Good luck on finals, Wildcats!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


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Cat in the Stax: All About Boston

By Ethan Shea

"Boston Marathon Start Sign"

Photo by Sports Illustrated.

Just a couple days ago, on Monday, April 18, the 126th Boston Marathon took over the streets of Massachusetts. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the first official women’s field, when only eight women raced the prestigious marathon. On Monday, over 12,000 women took on the journey from Hopkinton to Boylston Street.

The 126th installment of the Boston Marathon was one of the most exciting in the race’s history, as the leading women, Peres Jepchirchir and Ababel Yeshaneh, went back and forth for the last couple miles until Jepchirchir pulled away to win by just four seconds.

In the men’s field, Evans Chebet earned a decisive victory, finishing in two hours, six minutes, and 51 seconds, only 30 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.

For a complete list of results, check out the official Boston Athletic Association’s website here!

Meb Keflezighi WIns 2014 Boston Marathon

Meb Keflezighi wins the Boston Marathon. Photo by CBS.

There’s so much to be said about Boston and marathon racing in general that someone could fill a book, and luckily for us, many people have. For example, one of the most decorated American marathoners, Meb Keflezighi, is the author of two books, most recently, 26 Marathons, his account of every marathon he’s raced.

Meb Keflezighi famously won the Boston Marathon in 2014, only a year after the bombing. Meb was the first American to win the race in 31 years, and no American has won since. Keflezighi retired from running just three years later.

If you’d like to run Boston yourself, check out Jeff Galloway’s book, Boston Marathon: How to Qualify! It’s full of training plans and advice to help you run your fastest marathon. Galloway’s training methods are beloved by many due to their accessibility. His walk-run method and emphasis on rest days is designed to guide even novice runners to the finish line injury-free.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: The Easter Bunny’s Pennsylvanian Roots

By Ethan Shea

""

Did you know the Easter Bunny has Pennsylvanian roots? As those who celebrate prepare for Easter, here in Pennsylvania, we can rest assured that the Easter Bunny won’t forget to leave plenty of eggs.

According to TIME Magazine, “the Easter Bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare.”

The Free Library of Philadelphia backs up this claim and expands upon it here: “Georg Franck von Frankenau first wrote about the Alsatian tradition of a Hare bringing Easter eggs in his De ovis paschalibus or About Easter Eggs in 1682, but it was the Pennsylvania Dutch who brought the tradition of the Easter Hare or Oschter Haws to Pennsylvania.”

When it comes to holidays involving small mammals, Pennsylvania reigns supreme. Name another state that both the Easter Bunny and the immortal Punxsutawney Phil can call home! All we need now is a state bat for International Bat Appreciation Day on April 17. If you have any ideas for names, I’d love to see them in the comments!

I know I’m looking forward to a home-cooked meal with my family. Regardless of whether you celebrate Easter, I hope you enjoy a well-deserved break!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


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Cat in the Stax: April Showers

By Ethan Shea

""

Everyone knows the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” but how true is it? According to this weather blog, the saying actually comes from England. Although April is usually a fairly wet month, it isn’t always the rainiest. June and July often compete for the top spot in both the United States and United Kingdom.

All I know is that as I’m writing this blog and looking at the weather forecast, April looks like it’s off to a fairly damp start. To fit the somber mood that comes with this wet weather, I’ve compiled some of rain’s most famous appearances in literature. Everyone knows the best way to read is beside a rain-soaked window, so feel free to check out these recs and read them at your leisure!

"Canterbury Tales"Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

Perhaps the most famous invocation of rain is the opening of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The poem even directly calls upon April specifically as a month that brings rain. In direct contrast to Chaucer, over five centuries later, T.S. Eliot would begin his magnum opus, The Waste Land, with the phrase: “April is the cruelest month,” showing how incredibly deep Chaucer’s influence runs.

“The Rainy Day” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This somewhat depressing poem is worth reading when you’re down in the dumps on a rainy day. The most famous line from this poem is: “Into each life some rain must fall.” A quote worth remembering when bad weather and anything else going on in your life makes everything seem overwhelming. A little rain just makes the sun feel brighter afterwards!

“April Rain Song” – Langston Hughes

Hughes makes a refreshing change of pace here as he declares his love for the rain with this poem. His ability to find beauty in pools of rain on the sidewalk and enjoy the musicality of raindrops on his roof is inspiring. You just have to respect the ability to take something that may seem bad and turn it into something beautiful.

“Rain Poem” – Emily Dickinson

Although it is referred to as “Fascicle Thirty-Eight” in this collection, “Rain Poem” is another piece that seems not to mind the wet weather. While placing all these poets aside one another, it’s fascinating to see how nature inspires them in such dramatically different ways even when under the same damp conditions.

Hopefully you enjoy these pieces and are inspired to search for some more, as there is an innumerable number of literary works inspired by the rain. Moreover, April just so happens to be National Poetry Month! Not that you needed another reason to indulge in some classic verses.

Happy reading, and stay dry out there…or don’t!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 

 


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Curious Cat: The Wheels or Doors Debate Continues

By Elijah McDow & Ethan Shea

"Curious Cat Banner"

In this week’s installment of Curious Cat, Elijah and Ethan brainstormed a handful of possible questions but ultimately took inspiration from Ethan’s recent Cat in the Stax post and asked: “Are there more wheels or doors in the world?” These curious Cats received a total of five responses. Here’s what those Falvey patrons had to say about this viral question…

"Curious Cat March 25 pic 1"

“Team Wheels because of the wheels on office chairs.”

— Connor Fawcett ’24

“Team Wheels because there are so many Hot Wheels.”

— Connor Welts ’24

“Team Wheels…just think of suitcases.”

— Mary Dam ’24

"Curious Cat March 25 pic 2"

“Team Wheels because of all the conveyor belts Amazon owns.”

— Briar Braddock ’24

“Also Team Wheels because of conveyor belts.”

— Lily Panunto ’24

 

Well it looks like Team Wheels won in a landslide here at Falvey. If you have your own thoughts on this debate, leave a comment!


Elijah McDow is a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Student.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

Headshot of Ethan Shea


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Cat in the Stax: Are you Team Wheels or Team Doors?

By Ethan Shea

"Monster's Inc. Door Factory"

Forget the “The dress” and the controversy over “Laurel” and “Yanny.” The next big internet debate is here!

This time everyone is arguing over whether there are more doors or wheels in the world, and the lighthearted yet passionate banter is certainly welcome.

Those on Team Wheels often cite the immense number of wheeled vehicles in the world. In addition to cars, there are skateboards, scooters, and bicycles. Moreover, you need to replace these wheels more often than you need to replace most doors, so there must be a lot of them!

However, members of Team Doors point to skyscrapers, bathroom stalls, refrigerator doors, and even kitchen cabinets. Regardless of what side of the debate you’re on, both doors and wheels have some tempting points.

One of the most interesting aspects of this debate is the fact that many people are struggling to define what counts as a door and what counts as a wheel. Should cabinets count as doors? What about mini wheels pasta? Is each individual morsel technically a wheel?

"NovaRacing Race Car"

NovaRacing Car in Falvey Library

While I have my own opinions on these controversies, the main reason why this debate is so fascinating is because it is surprisingly philosophical. In fact, the struggle to define doors and wheels remind me of Plato’s Theory of Forms.

We all have abstract ideas of what wheels and doors are, and this non-physical concept is the truest, most essential form of them. When we try to translate our general ideas of the forms to specific objects, things can get complicated. If you’d like to read more about this idea and consider how it applies to the great door and wheel debate, Plato discusses it a bit in The Republic, which is available here at Falvey, among several other dialogues.

There are many more reasons why this debate has a home in the Library. First of all, Falvey recently acquired a new set of wheels, as a NovaRacing car was just relocated to outside of the Idea Lab due to the CEER Expansion Project. To learn more about the car and NovaRacing, check out this blog.

"Narnia Wardrobe Door"

Wardrobe door to Narnia

There are also countless famous doors in literature and film. In addition to the image from Monster’s Inc. featured above, a few that come to mind are the Doors of Durin from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the entrance to Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter series, and the wardrobe door to Narnia from The Chronicles of Narnia.

However, we can’t forget famous sets of wheels such as The Magic School Bus, Herbie from The Love Bug, and Lightning McQueen from Cars!

I’m curious where everyone stands on this hot topic, so don’t be afraid to leave a comment taking a side. Are you Team Wheels or Team Doors?

 


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library


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Cat in the Stax: Your Spring Break To-Do List

By Ethan Shea

"people watching television"

Tackling your to-do list isn’t always the most enjoyable task. During most weeks, to-do lists consist of monotonous chores. Doing dishes, folding laundry, and going grocery shopping aren’t my favorite things to do either, but I think it’s important that we make time to de-stress during break, so make sure you include something fun on your to-do list this week!

Something other than chores that’s accessible and easy to do is catch up on some television. Luckily, a lot of binge-worthy shows have been released as of late, so we have our work cut out for us! On that note, here are a few shows everyone is talking about.

"Euphoria cover"Euphoria

One of the most popular shows out right now is Euphoria. The finale of its second season just recently aired on Feb. 27, and because there are only eight episodes in each season, catching up on this series is not a monumental task. Although Euphoria is technically a teen drama, it is only for mature audiences. There are some very explicit, intense, and potentially triggering scenes, but if you are comfortable with the content, the experience is unique and unforgettable. Euphoria is available to watch on HBO Max.

 

 

"The Book of Boba Fett Poster"The Book of Boba Fett

This series is a spin-off of The Mandalorian series. Taking place after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, this show focuses on Boba Fett and Fennec Shand’s new status as leaders on the planet Tatooine, as they had recently dethroned Jabba the Hutt. Its first season is only seven episodes long, and the finale was released on Feb. 7. Watching The Mandalorian before you tackle this show is not necessarily required, but it’s definitely recommended. (The same goes for just about every film in the Star Wars franchise.) If you decide to brush up on your Star Wars lore, the films are available at Falvey library. The season finale of The Book of Boba Fett was the most watched of any Disney+ series, and it is available to watch exclusively on Disney+.

 

"Peacemaker Poster"Peacemaker

The eighth episode and season finale of the first season of Peacemaker was released on Feb. 17, so it is still a very new series. This show takes place after the events of the most recent Suicide Squad film and unsurprisingly focuses on the DC Comics character, Peacemaker. John Cena plays the title role, which arguably makes the show worth checking out on its own. Having the lead character of the show be a disreputable guy to say the least sets the series apart from more traditional superhero shows. Peacemaker is also available to watch on HBO Max.

 


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: A Brief History of Play-Doh

By Ethan Shea

"Play-Doh Event Pic"

Photo of Play-Doh used at Falvey’s stressbuster event

To call attention to the Play-Doh/The Shining-themed stressbuster taking place at Falvey today (hence the revised logos in the above photo), I want to use this week’s “Cat in the Stax” to talk about everyone’s favorite toy!

Play-Doh officially became available to the public in 1956, but the product has an even longer history. Joseph McVicker was born in 1930 into a family business called Kutol Products, which made various cleaning supplies. He would eventually use his position in the company to create the world-famous “Doh.”

After attending Brown University, McVicker developed a putty-like product called Kutol Wall Cleaner. He soon realized the full potential of the clay and altered it to be fit for children. Before long, the putty became a hit with families nationally, and the wall cleaner came to be known as Play-Doh.

However, the beginnings of Play-Doh were not as extravagant as one may think. In fact, before 1957, Play-Doh was only available in white, so to make the toy more fun, McVicker eventually added colors. The first Play-Doh colors were red, blue, and yellow.

"Play-Doh Pioneer Book Cover"After the expenses of the initial release, McVicker did not have any money left to advertise the toy. To solve his marketing issue, he walked onto the set of Captain Kangaroo, the most popular children’s show at the time, and showed off his product. Everyone on set loved it and decided to use Play-Doh on the show. The exposure from Captain Kangaroo caused sales to spike, and McVicker became a millionaire in less than a year.

All this information has been pulled from a biography on Joseph McVicker called Play-Doh Pioneer: Joseph McVicker, which is available online at Falvey.

If you’d like to get some Play-Doh for yourself, be sure to attend the stressbuster on the first floor of Falvey Library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, Feb. 23!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


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Last Modified: February 23, 2022