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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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Cat in the Stax: Crying in the Stax

By Ethan Shea

"tear falling from eye"

In this New York Times article by Wesley Morris, the many implications of crying, from tears shed in courtrooms to movie theaters, are thoroughly analyzed. I figured this text would give me a solid opportunity to point out some books and movies at Falvey that, for better or worse, could encourage everyone to shed a few tears. Depending on how your Valentine’s Day went, that may or may not be easy to do.

The scope of the aforementioned article is far too broad to sum up in a sentence or two, but a couple particular points stuck with me. For one, the piece recognizes that crying is a uniquely human experience. Tears are what separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, which makes crying all the more necessary. A good cry can help us learn things about ourselves that we never could have known otherwise because, in spite of the humanity of crying, it “arouses the animal in us” (Morris).

If you feel inclined to take part in the humanizing experience of shedding tears, here are a few books and movies you can find at Falvey that encourage a bit of crying.

"Flowers for Algernon Book Cover"Flowers for Algernon

This novel by Daniel Keyes is widely known as one of the most tear-inducing stories of any library’s stacks. The story follows a man who undergoes a science experiment with the goal of increasing his intelligence, but he soon realizes that the operation is not as glorious as he had imagined. The experiment had recently been performed on a lab mouse named Algernon, which the protagonist becomes attached to. In spite of the heavy topics the book covers, it is sure to be a powerful read that can definitely make you cry.

 

"Call Me By Your Name Book Cover"Call Me By Your Name

Both the book and the cinematic adaptation of this story by André Aciman are housed here at Falvey. The movie is even available to stream on our website whenever you please. This love story taking place by the beach in Italy has become incredibly popular over the past few years, and especially since Timothée Chalamet made waves with the big screen version of the book, almost everyone knows about this story and its ability to bring its viewers to tears.

 

 

"Moonlight Film Cover"Moonlight

This Academy Award winning film is extremely heavy, heart-wrenching and beautiful all at once. Moonlight actually beat my favorite film, La La Land, for Best Picture (in a very memorable announcement blunder), but I can’t even be mad about it. A story like Moonlight deserves all the praise it has received, and anyone with a heart would be moved by it. Not to mention that it is one of the most stunningly shot movies I’ve ever seen with cinematography that is simply unmatched.

 

 

"Toy Story 3 Film Cover"Toy Story 3

On a lighter note, don’t ask me why this movie absolutely guts me, but it just does. Having grown up watching the Toy Story films and aging with Andy, seeing him mature and leave for college around the same time I did was more than I could handle. The ending is not even terribly sad, but that almost makes it harder to stomach. You just have to accept the changes maturity brings and continue living. This film doesn’t say growing up is bad, but realizing you’ll never be a kid again is painful. Toy Story 3 forced me to accept it.

 


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

 

 

 


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Cat in the Stax: The Benefits of Wordle

By Ethan Shea

Wordle

Image provided by NPR

If you’ve browsed social media at all during the past few months, you’ve probably heard of Wordle. If you’re not familiar with the term, Wordle is an online word game that allows users six attempts to guess a word using color clues. There is only one Wordle each day, and it is the same for everyone. This game took the world by storm as of late and was recently bought by the New York Times (NYT) with a seven figure price tag. Not a bad payday for Josh Wardle, the man who created the game just last October.

Some are worried Wordle will be put behind a paywall by the NYT, but luckily for us Villanovans, we have access to the New York Times through our institution.

There are several games I can think of that are similar in nature to Wordle. By this I mean they’re fun and quick word games that exercise your brain. Crosswords, Scrabble, and even Words with Friends come to mind. These sorts of games can be good for mental fitness; some are even advocating for the use of Wordle in the classroom.

Scrabble

Image provided by Pexels

Games like Wordle can help develop critical thinking and problem solving skills in a way that is entertaining and generally more engaging than a traditional lecture. Of course, the best way to improve your skills at a game like Wordle is to know lots of words. There are more specific strategies that certainly help, such as choosing a starting word that uses several vowels and commonly used consonants, but the bottom line is that if you don’t have a relatively large vocabulary, you won’t be able to generate the necessary words.

That’s why, as a library, Falvey can help you get better at Wordle and subsequently impress all your friends. For example, we have books with games of a similar nature as Wordle that can help you train for the daily competition. You can find one such book here.

Another reason why a game like Wordle is so impactful is its ability to bring people together. This is what sets Wordle apart from other games like crosswords and word searches. Although these games are widely played, the fact that everyone deals with the same Wordle every day creates a more closely knit community of players. Plus, it’s easy to share your results with unique compositions of colored tile emojis.

Especially today, when many people are traveling less and associating with fewer people than in normal times, something that gives you an excuse to reach out to a friend or family member with a light-hearted game is certainly welcomed. Hopefully this blog helps you improve your Wordle skills a bit and makes you feel a little less guilty about spending an extended period of time playing an online game. In the correct dosage, it’s good for you!


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

 

 


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Cat in the Stax: The Lore and Scandals of Groundhog Day

By Ethan Shea

"Groundhog"

It’s Groundhog Day, and as residents of Pennsylvania, we should all rejoice, as this holiday originated in our state with the one and only Punxsutawney Phil. According to local lore, there really is only one Punxsutawney Phil, and there has never been another. In fact, the original Phil has been making annual weather predictions since 1886. Despite the average lifespan of groundhogs being only three years on average, Phil is currently over 135 years old.

Phil’s secret to longevity is the “elixir of life,” a secret drink he enjoys every summer at the Groundhog Picnic. Each serving of this magic drink grants Phil another seven years of life.

By the time this blog is published, Phil will have already made his weather prediction. However, there are other groundhogs throughout the country who take to the stage every Groundhog Day. My personal favorite (aside from Phil, of course) is Staten Island Chuck, who is formally known as Charles G. Hogg. Chuck has been New York City’s official groundhog meteorologist since 1981, and in spite of his relatively young career in the meteorology industry compared to Phil, he is no stranger to controversy.

In 2009, Chuck bit former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the Groundhog Day ceremony, and as a result, Chuck was secretly replaced by his granddaughter Charlotte for future festivities. Moreover, during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first Groundhog Day ceremony, he dropped Charlotte! One week later, Charlotte passed away, and the Staten Island Zoo did not announce her death until several months later.

"Pierre C. Shadeaux"

Pierre C. Shadeaux of Louisiana

There has been lots of controversy surrounding whether de Blasio inadvertently killed Charlotte. Some even believe the Staten Island Zoo attempted to hide her death, but since the event, the zookeepers have confirmed they do not believe the fall was the cause of Charlotte’s death.

Some other famous groundhogs worth knowing are Buckeye Chuck of Ohio, Chuckles XI of Connecticut, Chattanooga Chuck of Tennessee, and Pierre C. Shadeaux of Louisiana.

Hopefully no more scandals about today’s holiday are revealed in the future, and all the nation’s groundhogs continue to perform their sacred duties in peace.

If you’d like to take part in today’s festivities from the comfort of your home, consider picking up the classic movie Groundhog Day, which is available here at Falvey on DVD or through streaming. Happy Groundhog Day everyone!


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


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Stax in the Cat: Opposite Day

By Ethan Shea

""

It’s a classic ruse. Your parents tell you to do something, and you proceed to do precisely the opposite. They’re shocked by your actions. “Why would you do such a thing?” they say. You smile as you triumphantly declare it to be Opposite Day.

This hallowed holiday is generally treated as a means to evade chores, but in fact, Opposite Day officially occurs on Jan. 25. To honor this annual tradition, I’m doing the opposite of what’s expected by publishing this blog the day after Opposite Day. It wouldn’t be very festive of me to actually post a blog about Opposite Day on Opposite Day. That’s just too predictable.

"President Calvin Coolidge"

President Calvin Coolidge

Opposite day is a tradition dating back to the 1920s. The holiday originates from everyone’s favorite president, the one and only “Cool Cal,” or Calvin Coolidge if you’re a fan of formality. Before campaigns for the 1928 election began, Coolidge, who was President at the time, claimed “I do not choose to run.” The ambiguity of his statement led many people to believe Cal meant the opposite of what he said.

I don’t know about you, but the fact that Opposite Day is really just a way of making fun of a politician’s poor choice of words makes the holiday even more entertaining.

To complicate things a bit, whether Opposite Day can even exist is an ongoing debate. If I declare it to be Opposite Day, and it becomes Opposite Day, does that not mean the opposite of my statement is true, so it would just be a normal day, right? Contrarily, if I say it is not Opposite Day, it is just a normal day, so my statement stands, and it really isn’t Opposite Day. I guess if we all agree to celebrate Opposite Day on Jan. 25, no one has to say anything, and Opposite Day can finally prevail.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate Opposite Day here at Falvey Library! One way is to take a minute to look through our collections on polar exploration. There are several artifacts and stories about voyages to both the North and South Poles. It doesn’t get more opposite that that!

If you’re feeling hungry, check out some of Falvey’s culinary books and search for a recipe with sweet and sour sauce. Who would’ve thought opposites could taste so good!

Lastly, if you can’t find the words to describe how you feel about Opposite Day, look through a thesaurus to browse an endless number of synonyms and antonyms, the epitome of opposites in the world of words.


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: Winter Break Reading Follow-up

By Ethan Shea

"Woman reading on park bench in winter"

It feels like I spend more time talking about books I intend to read than I actually spend reading, but during winter break, I surprised myself by following through with most of my reading plans! In spite of the chaos of the holidays and a hectic travel schedule, it was a refreshing change of pace to briefly turn off the English student part of my brain and fall into a habit of reading solely because I feel like it. Rather than dwelling on every adjective and metaphor or digging into deeper meanings behind each text’s symbolism, I just kicked back and let the words flow through me.

As you can see in this blog from December, curated by Falvey’s very own Kallie Stahl, I set out to read a few specific books during break, so in this blog, I’m going to let you know what I think of the books I read and whether or not I recommend them.

"'The Picture of Dorian Gray' Book Cover"The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

I had high expectations for this book… and Oscar Wilde exceeded all of them. As Wilde’s only novel, A Picture of Dorian Gray has earned a mythical status as a nearly perfect novel, and now I understand why.

Poetry is Wilde’s usual form of choice, but he mastered the novel on his first attempt. I found that Wilde’s prose almost reads as poetry. His passages flow like melted gold, showing just how meticulous he is about choosing each and every word.

Dorian Gray may also be the most quotable book I’ve ever read. The character Lord Henry is always armed with a pithy retort or epigram that will make you re-evaluate your philosophy of life. My only warning is that in the wrong hands, this book could turn its reader to a narcissist, but Wilde might say that’s nothing to be weary of. I’m not sure if this novel has any morals or if its value is simply found in its beauty, like Dorian himself. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

So, would I recommend this book..? Yes!

"'One Day in December' Book Cover"One Day in December – Josie Silver

The spontaneous formation of a book club put together by my extended family led me to read One Day in December. It isn’t something I would usually gravitate toward, but nonetheless, I decided to listen to my aunt’s recommendation and give romance a chance.

I want to begin by saying I have nothing against the romance genre. Indulging in a melodramatic love story from time to time can be a lot of fun, but fun is not how I would describe my experience reading One Day in December.

Perhaps if this story were condensed a bit it would have been a quick and entertaining read, but One Day in December is nearly 500 pages long and takes place over the course of ten long years. Replace the content of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with a drawn-out plot from the most lifeless Hallmark movie you can imagine, and you’ll have an idea of what it was like reading this book. I wish I could tell you the experience was forgettable, but unfortunately, the particulars of the protagonists’ personal lives are tattooed to the backs of my eyelids. And yes, receiving these tattoos was as painful as you’d imagine.

In spite of this novel’s tedious narrative, both Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling have shown interest in adapting the text to the big screen. I’ll be sure to follow up with a film review when pigs fly.

So, would I recommend this book…? No, but I had a good time tearing it apart with my family.

"'The Song of Achilles' Book Cover"The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

I’ve heard endless buzz about The Song of Achilles for years now, and during winter break, I finally took the plunge. This story about a romantic relationship between two men of royal descent, Patroclus and Achilles, is written beautifully, and considering the liberties Miller takes in adapting the ancient story, she remains fairly true to the era.

Miller does not whitewash the harsh realities of the Greek Heroic Age and successfully creates several vivid characters with distinct personalities. The protagonists are forced to grapple with the power of Fate while planning their time left together.

So, would I recommend this book..? Yes, and I’ve already purchased Miller’s second book, Circe.

Although I claimed I would read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart over break in Kallie’s blog, I chose not to because I wanted to experience it for the first time in Professor Chiji Akoma’s class “Chinua Achebe and the African Novel,” which I am excited to be taking this semester!

Hopefully I keep this habit of personal reading throughout the semester, as it always seems to slip away when the coursework begins to pile up. At the very least, my family’s book club will hold me accountable for reading at least one book not related to my studies each month!


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: Another Resolutions Blog

By Ethan Shea

"Woman writing New Year"

Setting New Year’s resolutions is a tradition dating all the way back to the Ancient Babylonians. There’s something to be said about a custom that adapts to several millennia of changes, but I remain hesitant to write yet another blog about resolutions. It’s almost cliché at this point; as soon as January begins the gyms overflow and everyone’s lifestyle changes on a dime. But I’ll admit, the beginning of the year is especially apt for making new habits, so why not take advantage of this opportunity that only comes once a year?

Personally, I’ve never been too invested in New Year’s resolutions. I believe every day is a chance for a fresh start, but it feels obligatory to write something about resolutions during this time of year. Turning the subject into something original isn’t an easy task either, so rather than treating this ‘Cat in the Stax’ as a personal blog like I usually would, I’m going to talk about some resolutions I think everyone can add to their list.

Read more!

I know this goal isn’t very specific, and I’m breaking my own rules about setting “SMART” goals, but that’s sort of the point of this list. Besides, this resolution is very simple. It just means read more than you did last year! If you didn’t read any books last year (surely that’s not true), just try to read one book. One is a lot more than none! Contrarily, if you’re a bookworm who read 30 books in 2021, shoot for 32 this year.

Do something new!

I think it’s important to try new things, whether it’s food, travel destinations or board games, so make sure to keep 2022 fresh by getting out of your daily routine every once in a while. Can we really call the New Year “new” if we keep doing the same things every year? The best way to put the “new” into 2022 is to seek new experiences.

Make time for hobbies!

Having something fun to look forward to is essential to staying sane during a busy semester, so make sure you have a hobby or two to pass the time. These hobbies can often take a backseat in your life when work or school becomes overwhelming, but making sure they don’t slip away entirely is important for maintaining mental health. I know if I don’t make time for hobbies at least a couple times per week, everything in my life becomes more difficult, so I’m making sure to leave time for some fun in 2022.

At the risk of sounding like every other blog during this time of year, those are a few very broad resolutions I think everyone can make use of. You can adjust and specify these as you please to fit your personal goals by perhaps attempting to read twenty novels this year or aiming to try a new food once per month. Regardless of how you craft your resolutions, I hope your 2022 is off to a great start.


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: Semester Rewind

By Ethan Shea

"women rewind a cassette tape Vintage compact cassette on white background, Close up set of old audio tapes, Retro"

For my last “Cat in the Stax” of the semester, I thought it would be fun to write a semester recap and reflect on some of my favorite moments from fall 2021 while looking ahead toward what the new year holds!

To get the obvious out of the way, this was my first semester at Villanova University and first time publishing “Cat in the Stax” blogs. In my humble opinion, I think the transition to life as a wildcat has gone smoothly, and I couldn’t be happier to be part of the Villanova community.

"Cow Community" by Yunuen Cho

“Cow Community” by Yunuen Cho

As for my favorite “Cat in the Stax” blog, I have to say I’m particularly attached to my post for Hispanic Heritage Month, “Appreciating Hispanic Visual Artists.” I really enjoyed the research that went into that blog, and I loved having the opportunity to promote an upcoming artist.

Writing these blogs has had a substantial impact on my day-to-day life too. After writing about Fantastic Mr. Fox in the “Fall Films for the Faint of Heart” blog, I put the movie on repeat for the next month and started listening to the soundtrack while studying. A couple songs from the film even made it onto my Spotify Wrapped! Additionally, since writing the blog on “Hayao Miyazaki’s (Un)retirement” a few weeks ago, I’ve been watching Studio Ghibli movies whenever I get the chance. I won’t be surprised if some Ghibli scores make it onto my wrapped playlists in 2022.

And speaking of music, my “What are you listening to ?” blog from early in the semester was definitely a highlight for me. It forced me to narrow down some of my favorite musicians and choose a group of artists with diverse styles to present. I enjoyed the process of putting what I love about each album to words too. It helped me appreciate the music even more than I already did.

""

Scene from “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

"Album cover of the album 'Mood Valiant" by Hiatus Kaiyote"

“Mood Valiant” by Hiatus Kaiyote

“Cat in the Stax” blogs also taught me lots of fun facts. For example, who knew the Department of Transportation oversees timezones in the United States? I certainly didn’t until I wrote “Why Daylight Saving Time Scares Me.” Moreover, discovering that late-night study sessions can actually be productive by writing the “Answering All Your Study Questions” blog has made me feel a lot better about my nocturnal habits.

And we can’t forget the memorable events tied to “Cat in the Stax” blogs this semester. My personal favorite was Wildcat Thrifting. Not only was this the first student-run Wildcat Thrift ever, I also discovered some more places to thrift near campus while writing the blog for it.

"Photo from Wildcat Thrift Event"

Photo from Wildcat Thrift

As for next semester, there are plenty of occasions I’m looking forward to. For one, Lit Fest 2022 is sure to be a hit, and I’m excited to learn about all the amazing writers that will be there!

There are plenty more “Cat in the Stax” blogs to come next year, and I truly appreciate everyone who reads these posts!

To wrap things up, I hope everyone enjoys winter break and finds time to read a good book. Happy holidays!

 


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: Holiday Traditions

By Ethan Shea

"elf on the shelf"

The holiday season is fast approaching, and I’m prepared to partake in some annual traditions or perhaps even make some new ones. Traditions may be religious, personal to your family, or just something goofy you do every year, but regardless of their origins, traditions make the holiday season worth looking forward to.

The Christmas Pickle"Christmas pickle"

One tradition that’s always exciting is the hunt for the Christmas pickle. Since most of my family celebrates Christmas, during our annual holiday party, we make a competition out of finding a hidden ornament resembling a pickle in the Christmas tree. The color of the pickle blends into the pine needles, so finding the faux finger food is never an easy task. Usually there are several rounds of find-the-pickle, and the winner of each round receives a small gift. I’ve read that this tradition has German origins, but there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on how the mythical Christmas pickle came to be.

Cutting Down the Christmas Tree

My family also makes a tradition out of cutting down our Christmas tree together, and we always make sure to bring our dogs. The pups never fail to be as loud as possible, but I wouldn’t have our annual arboreal expedition any other way. When we were younger, each of my siblings used to take turns cutting down the tree, but since we’re all either torpid teenagers or lazy twenty-somethings now, my step-dad is usually forced to play lumberjack.

Wrapping Paper Fights"Wrapping paper"

Each year during our family Christmas party, while presents are being opened, everyone takes part in what is essentially a massive snowball fight with wads of wrapping paper. When you least expect it, you may receive a crumpled lump of Scotch-tape-infused paper to the face, so you can never let your guard down during this part of the gathering. We always make sure to pepper any new attendees, usually significant others, with extra wrapping paper as a sort of initiation into the family. Things get wild when my younger cousins silently stockpile wrapping paper ammunition and unleash a synchronized frenzy of paper balls upon their older relatives. Needless to say, wrapping paper warfare isn’t for the faint of heart.

Elf on the Shelf

The Elf on the Shelf is my youngest sister’s favorite holiday tradition. Every year, usually in mid-November, Santa sends an elf to our house. This elf tirelessly watches my family and documents our conduct for Santa before he makes the final edits to the “Naughty or Nice List”. To be honest, I’m skeptical about this tradition. It feels wrong to condition my siblings to uncritically obey an omniscient authority figure…but hey, maybe that’s what Christmas is all about!

And don’t worry, I’m not the only one in the library with traditions. Here are a few more holiday customs overheard at Falvey!

Jenna Renaud, Graduate Assistant

“As we open presents on Christmas morning, we always make sure to have the oldest person open presents first, and we work our way down to the youngest. I’m not exactly sure where this tradition came from, but I think it’s just a way to keep the children from getting distracted by their new toys.”

Kallie Stahl, Communication & Marketing Specialist

“After attending church on Christmas Eve, my entire family meets at my grandpa’s house to play card games (yes, card games…I grew up in the Midwest). We have multiple tables setup with a different game at each table—Euchre, Pinochle, Rummy, Dominos, etc. Rotating tables (to ensure we get to chat with everyone), we all bring our favorite appetizers to share with our table.”

Shawn Proctor, Communication & Marketing Program Manager

“Every year we research the best Christmas lights in the area and drive out to visit some of the houses. It’s fun to see how creative some displays can be, including radio stations with music and synchronized lights.”

Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication & Marketing

“Each year we participate in Wreaths Across America because both my father-in-law and mother-in-law are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Capt. Jack Q. Quinn, USN was a fighter pilot and founding director of the Naval Staff College for international officers at the Naval War College, Newport, RI. Betty Quinn had what many consider the toughest job in the Navy – Navy wife.”


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


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Cat in the Stax: Hayao Miyazaki’s (Un)retirement

By Ethan Shea

"No-Face"

For this week’s “Cat in the Stax” I want to take a brief break from the holiday season and discuss some other big news, Hayao Miyazaki’s (un)retirement.

It was recently announced that Hayao Miyazaki, internationally acclaimed film animator and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, will be coming out of retirement to create one last film. This is not the first time Miyazaki has gone back to work. In fact, he mentioned retiring from filmmaking as long ago as 1997 but did not formally “retire” until 2013.  In 2017, Miyazaki ended his retirement to create one last film, and now in 2021, he’s doing it again.

If you’re expecting to see Miyazaki’s new film sometime soon, you’re out of luck. Studio Ghibli animates its films with very little help from computer-generated imagery (CGI), so 12 minutes of film usually takes about a year to make.  Luckily, as of 2021, this new film, How Do You Live?, has already been in the works for a few years, so it has a tentative  release date of 2023.

The New York Times recently scored an interview with Miyazaki, his first interview with an English-language outlet since 2014, so if you’d like to read more about the man himself, I recommend checking it out here. As a Villanova student, staff, or faculty member, you have free access to the New York Times, so make use of it!

"Book Cover of 'Miyazaki World: A Life in Art' by Susan Napier"

“Miyazaki World: A Life in Art” by Susan Napier

I have to admit that I haven’t seen every Studio Ghibli film, but I hope to watch all of them during the upcoming winter break. The ongoing Studio Ghibli Fest at AMC theaters, which screens past Ghibli films on a monthly basis, has helped me watch some of these films. AMC will be screening My Neighbor Totoro this month, so if you haven’t already seen it, or even if you have, I’d recommend seeing it in theaters soon!

My personal favorite Miyazaki film is Laputa: Castle in the Sky.  This was one of Studio Ghibli’s very first productions, and I was lucky enough to experience it for the first time in theaters recently. I’ll stop myself from spoiling any of the plot, but everything about this film, from the score (which I love to listen to while studying) to the emphasis on the essentiality of nature through intimate visuals of greenery, is beautiful.

You can watch some Studio Ghibli films with the help of Falvey Library. Grave of the Fireflies is currently on the shelves of our stacks, and several other films, such as Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo, are available through interlibrary loan.

We even have several texts on the life and career of Miyazaki living in our stacks. For example, you could check out Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art or Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man: 15 Years at Studio Ghibli to learn more about the famous storyteller.


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


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Last Modified: December 1, 2021